On Monday 29 October, 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 to represent ‘Ageless Mobility’.
Most of us enjoy a lifetime of independence, driving when and where we wish – but sooner or later it is time to stop. It may be reduced sight, poor hearing, less agility, or reactions no longer quick enough. We don’t feel that safe anymore, or perhaps family, friends and the doctor have told us we’re not. Older drivers may well be safer than teenagers, but not forever.
It is widely recognised that the UK has an ageing population. People are living longer and, by and large, staying healthier and more active. Ageing welfare and the interests of national health, demand social mobility – and that means still getting out and about, despite age. As we celebrate yet another year of automobility, is the answer the driverless vehicle?
24 post-graduate designers at the Royal College of Art were invited to understand the needs and options for those over 60 and to design an autonomous solution to keep them mobile, healthy and happy in 2035. The Club, in conjunction with the RAC Foundation, set out a brief to the students, to empathise with those who have specific mobility needs and create new solutions. The five teams of students that accepted the challenge, listened to experts, and talked to members of the public who are challenged by existing 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 design concepts were judged by an expert panel including Club member, Professor Gordon Murray, and presented at the first of our London Motor Week events, amongst many distinguished automotive industry guests including past Royal College of Arts Vehicle Design alumni, who are now in roles at manufacturers such as McLaren, Tata, Jaguar Land Rover and Ford.
The INSIGHT Award was presented to Team Cosmo comprising of students Nikhil Tupe, Andreea Mandrescu, Kunyan Wei, Jiahong Wang and Ruiqi Zhang. The group designed a vehicle entitled CIRCLE V, a mobility solution for those with an active lifestyle. The innovative design featured three modes: a bicycle, a motorcycle or a comfortable seat when in autonomous mode.
Speaking of the design, Professor Gordon Murray said “all the contestants looked at a variety of problems, but the INSIGHT winner looked at a specific problem for older people, great lateral thinking a real great piece of work”.
The STYLE Award was presented to Team X, its students Johannes Recia, Yichen Shu, Avirukh Roy, Oliver Bassnett and Xiaoyang Zhao designed CIXTY, an urban mobility public transport system.
Upon presenting the award Professor Gordon Murray said “It was a rounded bit of work both on materials, technologies and the actual feeling of the interior and exterior. The style chosen would fit the period of 2035”.
He continued “It’s been a real privilege to be one of the three judges. Having worked in an industry full of innovation, I’ve always encouraged young people up through the business. What impressed me other than the designs was the complete lateral thinking of how all the teams ripped apart the various aspects of mobility”.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, Nusrat Ghani, also attended the event and was impressed by the creative thinking of the students. Nusrat Ghani said “Although the challenge that the Royal Automobile Club set for the student teams is for a year far in the future – 2035 – the challenge of how we can keep ourselves mobile into old age is something that needs attention today. We need our best designers to be turning their imagination and creativity to the task of making driverless mobility an attractive option for all.”
She continued “As the Chancellor announced this afternoon, as a Government we are investing heavily in transport – in rail and road. And we’re investing to attract companies looking to test and develop driverless technology to do so here in the UK. But that investment isn’t going to get us where we need to be if it doesn’t go hand in hand with creativity. And this is clearly an event that brings creative thinking to the fore”.
To view images from this year’s London Motor Week, please click here.
To see the events taking place during London Motor Week, please click here.