Intelligent Mobility Graduate Projects 2020
At the forefront of a new domain, the MA Intelligent Mobility programme prepares designers to address an increasingly complex mobility environment. The graduate projects from the 2020 cohort ask critical questions about the future of travel and mobility experience. In doing so, they interrogate a range of much broader issues, including sustainability and the finite nature of natural resources, the need to rethink how to organise the cities we inhabit and the importance of designing for an increasingly diverse society.
The Intelligent Mobility programme has a design-research led approach, equipping students with approaches and methods that enable them to unpack critical questions and deliver design outcomes which are both disruptive and impactful. Each graduate project is personally directed and grounded in research. The outcomes, which are often visually progressive, are underpinned by contemporary relevance and a sensitivity to emerging future techno-cultural questions. They inhabit a huge contextual breadth, from the challenges and opportunities presented by autonomous and electric vehicles, to the integration of future user experience technologies and how new types of vehicle will evolve and can be used and experienced.
Attitudes towards automationDevelopments such as electrification and autonomy, promise to revolutionise the way we travel. However, there is a challenge in understanding and embedding disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), as a key part of the design scenario to ensure their use does not create distrust or suspicion when included within autonomous vehicles. Dan Vorley proposes a new way for intuitive communication to be used to build trust in autonomous vehicles through a ‘living’ adaptive interface.
A visualisation inspired by neuroimaging provides an ambient display of the ‘thought process’ of the AI in an autonomous vehicle. This takes the form of a flow of holographic particles around the perimeter of the cabin, which constantly changes as the vehicle enters different environments and situations along the journey. The dialogue between passenger and vehicle builds on our ability to communicate through subconscious channels, such as facial expression and posture, creating an intuitive dialogue.
Socially inclusive designVidyut Naidu’s design ‘Silverback’ is an adventure sports vehicle for paraplegics. Studies have shown that mentally empowering individuals allows the physical body to flourish, and in that way mobility has relevance in both mental and physical health. Researching adventure, or thrill seeking activities, Vidyut found that the variety of activities on offer to people with disabilities is nearly half of those available to others.
This prompted Vidyut to take an inclusive approach to designing a vehicle for specific users, in order to improve access to the combined physical and mental benefits of outdoor adventure sports. The project, though, also highlights the importance of inclusive design in mobility and starts an important discussion around specifically developing design-led mobility options for often overlooked or marginalised groups.
Aesthetic experiences of future vehiclesOliver Winter has designed an autonomous vehicle for family journeys. Based on our innate biological response to natural environments – and the safety we naturally feel within specific spatial arrangements – the vehicles’ interior creates an analogue experience that reduces tension and maintains internal stability. Privacy, relaxation and refuge are all important aspects of the design, but so is the need for social and interactive areas for the family to be together.
The colour, material and finishes of the interior were created in collaboration with Lizzy Stufzand an RCA Textiles student. Continuing the innate and natural aspects of the project the colour scheme follows the circadian rhythm – a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. A combination of embroidered surfaces, textured fabrics and smart materials, creates an interior environment that heightens users’ experience of the journey and heightens their sensory curiosity.Johannes Recla’s design revolutionises the image and sound of electric vehicles through exterior design. Electric vehicles are an obvious and eco-friendly step towards the future of mobility. A major, but often underestimated problem is their lack of a characteristic sound signature. Currently ‘silent’ electric vehicles are legally required to implement an acoustic vehicle alert system to emit a noise when they travel under 30km/h, which comes from a hidden loudspeaker that produces an ‘artificial electric noise’.
Johannes has designed vehicle body parts that have particular acoustic properties, which are naturally triggered by the airflow created by the vehicles’ movement. Through research, exploration and experimentation Johannes has created a library of sounds and shapes for electric vehicles that can be applied to enhance the visual design and create directional and speed-dependent acoustic properties for electric vehicles.
Inhabiting future citiesA potential challenge for smart cities in the near future is connection issues to future 5G networks. Wireless data traffic has been increasing at a rate of over 50 per cent per year per subscriber, and this trend is expected to accelerate over the next decade with the continual use of video and the rise of the internet-of-things. There is no guarantee that whole city areas can be fully covered by high-speed 5G service, which means there is a risk of traffic accidents among fully-autonomous driving cars and pedestrians.
Hiu Li has designed a new vehicle proposal for 5G smart cities of the future. His vehicle has both a 5G antenna and data hub that acts as a signal repeater to enhance signal service for autonomous vehicles, in order to prevent such accidents and disruption. In addition to providing the necessary technical capability for mobile 5G applications – the design offers a radical new visual language refined through semantic analysis to convey specific visual attributes that are distinct yet sympathetic to future urban landscapes.Andy Zou’s ‘Androline’ is a shared mobility platform run by membership. Designed for the year 2030, this self-driving 6-passenger minibus has an adjustable modular interior, made up of smaller elements that connect to the main vehicle on the move. The design focuses on reducing traffic congestion as well as providing a better experience of public transport. Travellers can interchange seamlessly and effortlessly while the bus is moving, removing the need for traditional bus stops, which improves the efficiency of the whole transportation system.
Although the design is targeted at daily commuters in mega cities, it has many other future applications - especially in scenarios where physical static interchanges and stations cannot be easily built, such as terrestrial marine environments or even interplanetary travel.
Find out more about Intelligent Mobility at the RCA and how to apply.