Thursday, September 15, 2011

Design a Car for the Future

Product Design Lesson Idea: Transportation

Design a car for the year 2020. Do it in 4 steps:
1. Clarify the idea. The greatest need will be a car that works in crowded, congested places rather than open roads. Study the technology that will be available at that time. Search the internet for loads of ideas people are already developing - keywords "future, car".
2. Visualize the possibilities. Start doing lots of drawings. Purge your mind of the common, first ideas that come to mind until you start coming up with some truly innovative ideas.
3. Make a prototype. Make a quick prototype (model) of your car using inexpensive materials. This will reveal new possibilities and perhaps some problems with your design you hadn't noticed.
4. Present your idea. Using presentation skills, drawings, models, presentation boards, concept drawings, etc. present your idea in a way that inspires the audience and makes them say "Yes, I want that car!"

Some things that car designers predict in future cars.
1. Autonomous cars. Less of the driving will be done by humans.
2. Drive by Wire. There won't be fixed steering columns but steering will be done more like a game controller freeing up design space in the interior.
3. Skateboard Chassis. That hump that runs down the center of today's cars will be gone because each wheel will operate independently and a drive train won't be necessary.
4. Engines in the wheels (left). Rather than one large engine taking up space in the front, it is likely that each wheel will have its own electric motor.
5. Carbon-based Bodies. New moldable materials that are stronger than steel will allow more transparent spaces (bigger windows) and integrated lights (LEDs placed wherever you want them.
6. Smaller, easier to park cars. The City Car (rignt) is small, city friendly, easy to park and stackable (a bit like carts in a grocery store) so it takes up less space.
7. Tethering Cars. Cars will be able to connect to each other on highways so they function like a train or a bus and can safely move faster and take up less space on the road.
8. Interchangeable Bodies. You can put different bodies on your car for different needs - transporting more people, more storage, etc. by simply unbolting one body and popping on another. You will also be able to design your own car body.
9. Reconfigurable interiors and exteriors. There will be a great deal of freedom and ability to customize your car. Steering can be done from anywhere in the car. Panel controls can be configured however you want them.

Type in keywords such as "car of the future" to see lots of videos of ideas people have.
Click on the heading above to see a video of a car of the future that exists today.

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