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Vehicle Design Research

Vehicle and mobility design research has resulted in industrial innovation in vehicles and transport, both nationally and internationally, enhancing industry's ability to deliver commercial, societal and environmental benefits. This has three aspects: accessible, user-centred transport; future visions of public service vehicles and systems; and innovation in vehicle design for changing technologies.

Accessible, user-centred transport, much of it developed in collaboration with the College’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, has included contributing to the design of the first accessible taxi for London, the TX1, in the 1990s, and most recently to the design of a new accessible and iconic city taxicab for Karsan, a world automotive manufacturer.

Research in future visions of public service vehicles and systems has increased the capability of two companies to design for the future. Research for Capoco helped position them as a company with a future vision focused on systemic approaches for the next 25 years. Research on a new vehicle for Optare enhanced their capabilities and led to new projects, including a purpose-designed community service vehicle to provide essential services to the community as a replacement to the archaic mobile libraries and health clinics that were operating at the time.

Innovation in vehicle design for changing technologies has included research with Visteon, a leading global automotive corporation, which has had long-term benefits for the company. User-centred rethinking of the instrument panel enabled the company to explore and demonstrate in-car information and controls of the future, both to inform internal research and to demonstrate their forward-thinking to customers.  

Deep research into user needs has also led to the redesign of the Emergency Ambulance. The research showed a lack of consistency in equipment and vehicles, and identified nine problem areas that impinge on patient safety. Multidisciplinary research in partnership with four other universities explored a new system of vehicles, equipment and operations management to enable more patients to be treated in the community and reduce unnecessary A&E admissions.

Current or Recent Areas of Research

  • The transportation of people on irregular ground: analysis and proposal solutions
  • An analysis of the gap between branding and style marketing and design in the automotive industry
  • The problem of the vehicle in the city: what is the future of vehicular mobilisation in the twenty-first century?
  • Functional and aesthetic interface of public road transport
  • A new people’s car: changing the bias of vehicle control layouts from vehicle-centred to user-centred