Intelligent Mobility Design Centre

Launched in May 2016, the Royal College of Art’s Intelligent Mobility Design Centre (IMDC) will lead research at the intersection of people, mobility and technology within a complex and changing urban and global environment.  

Established as a world leader in the field of vehicle design and research, and with Professor Dale Harrow as Centre Director and inaugural Chair of the Hyundai Kia Laboratory, the Royal College of Art’s IMDC will be a multidisciplinary research centre with a design-led, human-centred approach at its core and the opportunity to focus on new ways of designing, influencing new behaviours, and developing new methodologies and mobility typologies that address societal issues.  

IMDC will operate at the intersection of design disciplines, at this time of radical change in modes of mobility – in technologies, but also in the commercial, social and cultural models with which they interact. Where previous university and corporate research has tended to focus on mechanics, engineering solutions to perceived problems and iterative developments leading to incremental market advantage, our track record in this area has demonstrated that the problem is much more subtle and complex, and requires human-centred approaches which are design-led. Previous research has tended to concentrate, in short, on the movement of objects, whereas the urgent need is to re-focus on the journey, the experience, the design of services and systems, and the complexity of the infrastructure and interactions that mobility in modern advanced societies entails. IMDC builds on Professor Dale Harrow’s successful research in autonomous vehicles, the design of the new emergency ambulance, and a new taxi for London

The IMDC is the first of four new research centres the RCA proposes to establish as a part of its ambitious new capital development in Battersea South of which a part will be a research building housing these new research centres.  The vision for the campus is to build on the success of the RCA’s existing research centres – the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, the HELIX centre for design-led innovation in healthcare, and CX (the Creative Exchange lab), by establishing three new research centres to be housed within the research building – initially encompassing the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre (IMDC), the Material Science Research Centre (incorporating the Burberry Material Futures Research Group), and the Computer Science Research Centre, with the potential for further research centres in the future. These Centres will build on the RCA's world-leading research in art and design as well as developing new interdisciplinary collaborations in fields including design-led robotics, artificial intelligence, advanced modelling and manufacturing, digital visualisation and simulation.

Within each field, the mission is to operate as multidisciplinary research centres bringing together teams of academics, designers and researchers from a broad cross-section of sectors and academic backgrounds to investigate and answer some of the pressing questions facing society today. The development of the new Research Centres represents a step change for the RCA, positioning the College as a research-led university with specific centres of interdisciplinary, STEAM-led expertise and close collaborations with industry, placing critical value on the catalysing power of the creative arts (‘A’) within science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).



  • Intelligent Mobility Design Centre
    Royal College of Art
    4 Hester Road,
    London SW11 4AN

  • +44 (0)20 7228 0658