Mad concept cars are designers' vision of the future at fourth LA Design Challenge
16 October 2007

We’re getting close to LA auto show time again, which means that, for the fourth year running, it’s time for the crazy LA Design Challenge. The Los Angeles region is home to the world’s largest concentration of manufacturer design studios, so the LA show is a natural place for car designers to gather. This year around 500 of them are expected to meet ahead of the show for the annual Design Los Angeles convention. A group of them will be judging the Design Challenge, which this year asked entrants to come up with designs on the theme of ‘Robocar 2057’. It’s an adventurous theme, and the designs are adventurous in the extreme. We’ve tried to decipher the mad meanings behind these mad machines, but they’re beyond our comprehension. Perhaps it’s best if we just let the entrants describe their entries in their own words…

Audi Virtuea Quattro

Volkswagen/Audi Design Center California. Heather Shaw, Jae Min, Mattijs Van Tuijl, Karl Strahlendorf, Christian SchoenIt’s the year 2057 and Audi continues to revolutionise through technology, offering a hydrogen-powered vehicle that combines artificial intelligence with avenues of self expression. This single-seat, autonomous driving machine functions as a solid unit at its core, while providing a myriad of possible holographic exteriors stored in a library and accessible through the vehicle’s interactive holographic interface. Virtuea’s holographic exterior provides a variety of possibilities, allowing the driver to select from the most innovative designs from one minute to the next. The vehicles image can now be proudly displayed without environmental impact as no physical materials are needed regardless of size. Audi takes pride in introducing personal transportation that combines passion with intelligence, which not only positively affects the environment but your life as well.

GM-Onstar ANT

General Motors Advanced Design, California. Frank Saucedo, Steve Anderson, Jussi Timonen, Jose Paris, Lorne Kulesus, Tony Liu, Jay Bernard, Phil TaniokaMuch like the self-regulating traffic system found in nature’s best commuter, the ant, OnStar enabled vehicle-to-vehicle communication and ubiquitously embedded intelligence allow GM’s ANT to act independently yet communicate with other vehicles to optimise traffic flow. Quantum computing power also allows each ANT to virtually recreate a highly personalized space for any occasion or personal need. Omni-directional propulsion, provided by three independent Nanorb wheel systems, operate as independent robots and can arrange themselves in different configurations, turning virtually anything into a mobile device. Layered, environmentally friendly, single-walled, carbon-polymer nanocomposites form the flat surface panels, which incorporate the carbon nanotube battery. All body panels are connected with electro-active polymer actuators (aka artificial muscles), allowing the easy and silent reconfiguration of body panels, depending on their optimal street use.

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Honda - 14 - One to the Power of Four

Honda Research & Development. Ben Davidson, Khrystyne Zurian, Shae ShatzThe solar-hybrid powered Honda 14 is an energy efficient, fully robotic commuting solution. A suburban community re-population movement in the 2050’s has increased consumer demand for a truly flexible commuter vehicle. The solar-hybrid Honda 14 solves the carpooling dilemma because it allows carpoolers to take advantage of HOV lanes, share commuting costs and once near the passengers’ final destinations, robotically transforms from one to four separate and unique modes of transportation. Through a combination of gyros, artificial intelligence and molecular engineering, each individual vehicle instinctively reconfigures as a fully functional vehicle. When traveling as one, the division points are undetectable. The latest advancements in molecular engineering allow the body panels to divide and reshape to form each individual vehicle.

Mazda Motonari RX

Mazda R&D of North America. Matthew CunninghamThe Motonari RX, named after legendary Japanese warrior Mori Motonari, non-invasively integrates the driver with the vehicle making each indistinguishable from the other. A driving suit serves as the primary interface between the occupant and the vehicle, which contains millions of microscopic actuators functioning as a haptic envelope. This allows the driver to experience the road psycho-somatically, receiving electrical stimulation to specific muscle groups. The entire structure of the vehicle is comprised of a 100 per cent re-prototypable, carbon nano-tube/shape memory alloy weave with a photovoltaic coating. This enables programmable tensiometry and fluid movement while insuring efficient energy transfer to the in-wheel electro-static nanomotors. The four omni-wheels allow 360 degree movement. Acceleration and direction is determined by two armrest-mounted control points. Occupant positioning controls the effectiveness of cornering and is comparable to street luge manoeuvring in appearance.

Mercedes-Benz SilverFlow

Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America. Gorden Wagener, John Gill, Kevin KangThe Mercedes-Benz SilverFlow utilizes micro-metallic particles that can be arranged via magnetic fields in many different forms based on pre-selected models. The vehicle, which can be completely dissembled into a pool of ferromagnetic material for easy storage, can adapt and transform its shape to best suit its required purpose. The magnetic assembler, activated by a simple key fob, creates whatever vehicle its user needs. All of the programmed modes for the SilverFlow are inspired by the Mercedes Benz Grand Prix cars from the golden era of motorsports with distinct low slung shape, tall thin wheels and dramatic open-wheel design. Any damage can be self repaired and any colour/configuration/size is possible depending on the amount of source material available.

Nissan OneOne, a Friendly Pet

Nissan Design America. Bruce Campbell, Doug Wilson, Robert Bauer, Bryan Thompson, Rie Arroba, Jeremy Malick, Laurie Tait, Matt Wilson, Soichi MaruyamaIn the year 2057 robots have become an integral part of our lives blurring the line between humans and machines. The Nissan OneOne is the ultimate pet, a friendly, helpful member of the family of the future. OneOne (pronounced “won-won,” an endearing Japanese description of a barking dog) takes care of every aspect of the family’s busy lives from retrieving dry cleaning and groceries, to tending to the children. Guided by a real time GPS network, OneOne can take the children safely to school, soccer practice and back home in time for dinner. OneOne takes mobility to a new level. Using synthetic muscles in its “legs,” it propels itself along by skating, much like you would on a pair of rollerblades. From performance car to city car, it lies down for speed or stands up for better visibility, allowing for more nimble navigation and easier parking. OneOne fulfills every need from dutiful pet to spirited sports car in a design that makes it a welcomed member of the family.

Toyota Biomobile Mecha

Calty Design Research. Edward Lee, Erwin Lui, Yo Hiruta, Kevin HunterIt is the year 2057 and due to limited ground space, vertical architectures have caused the transportation industry to create new pathways that also explore vertical space. An innovative solution is discovered in biomimicry. Inspired by life found in nature, the vehicle is powered by pollution with dynamic driving instincts and structural adaptations to accommodate the user’s need for space. This vehicle’s unique capability to extract pollutants in the air and utilize it as an energy source restores balance to our atmosphere. It is able to autonomously adapt to its driving environment by utilizing its four nano-laser wheels. Nanotechnology also enables the structure of the vehicle to expand and contract horizontally and vertically to serve as a compact commuter, an aerodynamic performance vehicle and temporary dwelling.

Volkswagen Concept Slipstream

Volkswagen/Audi Design Center California. Ian Hilton, Derek Jenkins, Patrick FaulwetterIn the year 2057, population centres have become unimaginably dense and the roadways have reached the point of total saturation. Volkswagen’s solution is an advanced autonomous vehicle that dynamically adapts to minimise its footprint in the city and its drag coefficient on the highways. When in the city, these two-wheeled, teardrop-shaped pods travel in an upright orientation that occupies one fifth the size of a traditional vehicle. When on a special freeway lane called the “Slipstream,” it tilts to a horizontal orientation optimising its aerodynamic shape. Rear fins slide out to allow the rear of the vehicle to float like the tail section of an airplane to achieve speeds in excess of 250 mph. The skin of the vehicle is made of hyper-efficient solar panels that power the vehicle.

Join the debate


30 June 2008

In 2057, I'll most likely be back seat driving a hearse.

30 June 2008

Vehicles which do not burn fossil fuels .............

30 June 2008

I will have learnt to ride a horse. Which will of course be heavily taxed by a deluded power mad idiot.

Cars will no longer be legal except for the very rich members of the ruling party of the aforementioned power mad idiot.

30 June 2008

It's great to know I'll still be around in 2057.

I'll be 97, and no doubt still be driving, breathing and slagging off speed cameras.

1 July 2008

We will be all sauntering about in sun generated, electrically powered airships. So we won't need cars. In Britain we will all be out walking, as 'New' New New Labour tax cars to 16 times their original cost, once they ousted 'New' New Conservatives and the buses are still not running to schedule, as the remaing three drivers have to drive the trucks as well. Since few have a job there's nowhere to go anyway.......

The remaining three truck drivers are on strike and having demos about the price of diesel as it reaches E$103.57(£270.40) per litre and blockade a port. "It doesn't matter if it's not used!" defends a drunk Stan Smith, whilst barbecuing his sausages, "It's the principle that counts!" Many join in and support the demo as the beer is free and 'The Rolling Stones' promise to do a spot just before their, "Back from the Dead' tour.

The Nanjing takeover of BMW, Mercedes Benz and Toyota goes smoothly and all those models now get the much coveted Nanjing Motors Marque. Except BMW models which have been axed due to poor sales.

The Conferate of America still at war with the Northern United States...............does anyone forsee anything else?

1 July 2008

[quote Kee Law]Surely the way forward is aerial cars.[/quote]

My car already has an aerial.

1 July 2008

If I'm still alive in 2057 I won't have lived enough!

2 July 2008

Nothing- with any luck I expect to be teleporting by then!!

failing that, a hydrogen powered seat with a roof and styling from a 3yrs drawing book. sitting in non stop traffic having to pay a congestion charge every mile remembering the 'compustion' age when we used something called petrol, cars were cars and you could drive faster than 15mph...

2 July 2008

:-) I think this is an old Autocar story reposted and should read 'what will you be driving in 2058' - presumably 50 years on? The full story was written last October!

Anyway, that aside, I'd like to see a small car which can easily get into London parking spaces - but doesn't have the embarrassing look of the Smart car - has great storage and in an ideal world, a phenomenal number of miles to the gallon!

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