Driving the future, speculating the next stage of transport design
How we drive, our relationship with our vehicles and the role of the car is about to change dramatically. Semi-autonomous, or piloted driving is already here, and most cars now offer some degree of driver assistance. Shared car schemes such as Zipcar and DriveNow are challenging how we view car ownership. Added to this, the millennials are not responding to the motorcar as their parents do; they simply don’t have the same emotional connection and are expecting much more from their vehicles.
So the car of the not-so-distant future has to become a multi-tasking machine – a transport hub and mobile work stations that seamlessly connect our worlds, guide us, and form communities. The second life of the automobile will be an exciting one to witness.
This is the thought process behind BMW Group’s three Vision 100 Next study cars, envisaged to celebrate the company’s centenary. Here BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce have delved deep into their brand identities and navigated paths to take them into this second life with intriguing results. For a design and branding consultant like Spinach, this is a fascinating territory that will also feed into our strategic and creative thinking.
BMW’s concept is a futuristic sporting saloon that runs on clean energy, moves autonomously, and is constructed through modern manufacturing methods to be shape-changing. MINI’s study concerns itself with personalisation, working with artificial intelligence to create a transport hub that adapts itself to each and every user for an interesting shared urban transport concept. Whilst Rolls-Royce is offering an ultimate personal transportation portal for the future – it is the embodiment of bespoke automotive luxury, where the autonomous function allows for a supremely sumptuous cabin replete with its very own virtual butler.
Behind these beautifully sculpted concept vehicles lies a great deal of advanced thinking that includes exploring new ways of manufacturing such as rapid manufacturing and 4D printing to bypass the current, outmoded forms of automotive manufacturing – conventional tools that are expensive, not very ecologically responsible and restrict design flexibility and freedom. It also involves investigating materials new to the automotive world that are light, durable, and sustainable.
The teams have been observing ways of preserving the emotive side of driving whilst offering driverless motoring. This is especially poignant for the BMW brand with an identity centred on being the ‘ultimate driving machine’. So here the driver can opt to be piloted in congested cities and motorways, saving his racing driver alter ego for the twisting open road as the augmented reality guides him, projecting the ideal steering line and best speed onto the windscreen. In driverless mode, the steering wheel simply slides away as the cabin transforms into a living room/workspace.
For Mini, the focus is on the car as a personal gadget that is shared and connects likeminded communities, continuing a conversation it raised with its inspired installation at Salone del Mobile in Milan earlier this year. This fully automated vehicle is wrapped in a silver blank canvas that alters according to each user, transforming to accommodate their mood and the situations they encounter for an ideal shared transport hub.
To achieve the ultimate in modern luxury, Rolls-Royce has looked at balancing craftsmanship, an individual spirit with tech wizardry and connectivity, delivered in the tranquil surroundings of the Rolls-Royce cabin. This is a highly theatrical concept vehicle, especially when the roof and coach door open to dramatically expose the interior so the passengers can step out in style.
The Rolls cabin offers a peaceful oasis. With the absence of the chauffeur, the front row has been discarded for a generous and open living space with panoramic views. Here a virtual assistant appears on the full-width transparent OLED display to direct the car and fulfill the passengers’ every need – even predicting their wishes.
Images © BMW Group
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