Royal College of Art 'Rural Mobility' Design Competition

Picture caption – Project SOHO – Abhidnya Kothavade, Dinesh Raman, Joseph Zammit, Xiao Yang and Sharon Ramalingam

To view images from the event click here.

On Monday 28 October, the Club’s annual London Motor Week kicked off with a fascinating display of innovative designs created by the post-graduate Art and Design students of the Royal College of Art’s Intelligent Mobility programme.

35 post-graduate designers were tasked by the Royal Automobile Club and RAC Foundation to design methods of transportation for the year 2030 and beyond for commuters living in rural areas. The project focused on rural populations and the challenges these communities in particular now face.

According to the EU’s Smarta project: “Rural public transport services in Europe are under pressure, due to a combination of factors including austerity measures, demographic change and poor connectivity in terms of transport and telecommunications infrastructure”

In order to help the students understand the difficulties that rural living can present for residents, not only in terms of limited transport links but also to their personal health and wellbeing, students became familiar with the rural market town of Wadhurst in East Sussex.

Based on their findings they were tasked with designing a vehicle or mobility system to help people be mobile, healthy and able to live freely and without compromise in a rural environment.

The eight teams of students that accepted the challenge, listened to experts, and talked to members of the public that face these challenges with their current transport options. They created and recorded the entire design process through to their design solution whilst making use of advances in technology and materials, including autonomy and artificial intelligence.

The teams presented their design concepts to an expert panel of judges at a special awards evening held at the Club’s historic Pall Mall clubhouse. Industry guests included past Royal College of Arts Vehicle Design alumni, many of which hold roles at manufacturers such as Bentley, McLaren, Tata, Jaguar Land Rover and Ford.

The INSIGHT Award was awarded to project Carnier comprising of students Domenico Perna, Marie Torrens, Zheming Zhang, Whenhao Zhang and Seok-woo Choe.

Speaking of the design, Dr Chris Thorpe said “the INSIGHT winners addressed critical rural needs and used mobility to connect with social aspects of the community providing a solution for cohesion. The autonomous vehicle delivered was visionary in its design”.

Carnier is a vehicle designed to help farmers to sell their products. The multi-functional vehicle can be used as personal transportation for farmers. It also converts quickly into a ‘pop up’ shop enabling them to retail at markets or used autonomously to deliver fresh or unwanted food within the community. The vehicle design uses locally sourced materials for the interior and exterior including wood and textiles to create a balance between tradition and technology.

The STYLE Award was awarded to project SOHO, its students Abhidnya Kothavade, Dinesh Raman, Joseph Zammit, Xiao Yang and Sharon Ramalingam coined the design solution ‘Carchitecture’ – a smart mobility infrastructure that uses dormant vehicles to create temporary shared multi-purpose spaces on demand.

Upon presenting the award Dr Chris Thorpe said “The team provided an architecturally design led concept that worked aesthetically and sympathetically with the village environment which was over and above its mobility function”.

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