Yes. Muji is designing self-driving buses now!

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The self-driving landscape seems perfect for a company like Muji, known for its minimalistic appeal and function-first agenda. Muji’s products look minimalist and beautiful without looking bland, and perform wonderfully for years… and the Gacha, a shuttle bus co-designed with Finnish autonomous driving company Sensible 4, follows that direction too, not just being innately Muji-esque, but also echoing the aesthetic direction that most self-driving cars are taking, of putting information at the forefront and dialing down the outer aesthetic of the car to make it appear more akin to a self-driving cabin/lounge.

The self-driving shuttle bus comes with a two-color exterior and a soft cuboidal form, sporting displays on the top of the windscreen as well as around the waist of the bus, displaying instructions to pedestrians on the outside. With no driver on the inside, the entire bus’s floor plan is made for 10 seated commuters and 6 standing passengers, as the bus travels from point A to B. The Gacha comes with a maximum speed of 40km/h, and even a range of a 100 kilometers on a single charge. It’s powered by a 4 wheel drive electric powertrain and a battery that can be wirelessly fast-charged.

Building the self-driving tech for the Gacha is Finland-based Sensible 4. The company is currently developing autonomous driving technology for extreme climates, including navigation and obstacle detection that can function seamlessly in heavy rain, fog, and snow–all of which are common to Finland’s climate and weather. The company is even headed to the Arctic Laplands to put the Gacha through rigorous testing. “We are developing these vehicles so that they can become part of daily transportation service chain,” says Harri Santamala, CEO of Sensible 4. “Autonomous vehicles can’t become mainstream until their technology has been insured to work in all climates.”

The Gacha is all set to be unveiled to the public in March 2019 at an event in Helsinki if the tests

Designers: MUJI & Sensible 4

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The ‘MEET’ is a self-driving virtual conference room from the year 2030

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Designed for Spanish automotive manufacturer Seat, Miguel Mojica’s automotive concept named MEET is a compact, aerodynamic, slick car for 2030. Its purpose (aside from transportation, of course)? Being a space for meetings of both formal and informal natures. As cars move towards an autonomous future, the car interiors change too, adapting to a situation sans a driver, or passengers facing the road. The interiors become more independent, and start becoming the focus of the car’s design. It’s perhaps for this reason that the MEET has a relatively plain outer aesthetic with little to no design embellishments, while the interiors tell a completely different story.

The outer aesthetic comes with a streamlined design that’s mainly metallic gray paint and glass, along with blue light-based detailing (there’s even a greeting light on the front), while the interiors come with magnetic levitation seats that can independently turn (I imagine they provide incredible shock-absorption too). Designed keeping in mind that 5G and AR/VR will absolutely uplift the smartcar experience, the MEET goes all out with a central gadget that’s adaptable to all ecosystems, which will supposedly serve as a support table, a computer, and even a hologram projector tailored to provide virtual reality experiences. I’d like a generous slice of that future!

Designer: Miguel Mojica

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