Self-driving taxi for one concept is perfect for solo commuters

The majority of self-driving car concepts envision a future where family and friends take advantage of the freedom these vehicles offer. Even strangers, however, can also benefit from autonomous vehicles by making mass transit more efficient. Not all commuters, however, are comfortable traveling with strangers, and even self-driving sedans could be a waste of space and energy for these people. If self-driving vehicles are supposed to make traveling more efficient and, therefore, more environment-friendly, then they should also take into account the needs of solo commuters, which is exactly what this concept for a single-person autonomous taxi tries to do.

Designer: Tony Ma

To be fair, not having to worry about driving while interacting with other people in the vehicle is one of the biggest pulls of the concept, but it’s not the most fundamental benefit. What autonomous cars offer is the freedom to do more important things other than almost mindless driving, whether it’s socializing, preparing for your next meeting, or even resting. Spending some alone time is not exactly easy if you’re traveling with others, whether they’re strangers or not, and having a four-passenger car all to yourself every day is a wasteful use of resources.

TAXI for one is a design concept whose name says it all. Instead of a car, it looks more like a mini golf cart split in half to fit only one person inside. And since it’s a self-driving vehicle, that person is the one and only passenger, with no other people to potentially disturb you or make you feel less secure. It’s perfect for people who, for whatever reason, prefer to travel solo and have very few things to carry with them, like going to and from the office.

The key design requirement for such a single-passenger autonomous vehicle would be the compactness of space while still providing comfort and room for storage. The latter goes into a compartment in front of the vehicle rather than at the back like a traditional trunk. This makes loading and unloading easy because the storage is near the vehicle’s door rather than forcing riders to go around first.

In exchange for the more compact form, however, the TAXI for one has very little room for reclining the seat and stretching your legs. As such, it isn’t exactly designed for longer periods of travel and is better suited for inter-city commutes only. That is probably fine for future workers who just want to get to the office and back home without much fuss, fanfare, or dealing with random people.

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Sleek self-driving air purifier robot can go where it’s needed the most

The air purifier market saw a huge uptick in the past years as homeowners became more aware and concerned about the quality of the air they breathe indoors. A single machine is enough to satisfy the needs of a room or a small apartment, but bigger domiciles would need more units to cover the wider space or numerous rooms. Of course, people won’t be in all those spaces or rooms at the same time, and managing multiple air purifiers could be a tiresome task, even if they’re all connected to your smartphone. What if the air purifier operated only where it’s needed, like in a place where the air quality is too low for comfort? That’s the idea behind this concept design for this elegant air purifier that can indeed go to those areas, using technologies already in use today.

Designer: Gwan-deok Seo

Air purifiers these days, at least the more sophisticated ones, can already detect air quality, but it’s more for automatically adjusting the level of purifying they do more than pinpointing where the poor air is. Robot vacuum cleaners, on the other hand, have become so advanced that they can effortlessly navigate around your home, mapping the floor layout on their own and avoiding all kinds of obstacles. There’s very little reason why these technologies can’t be combined, at least aside from the space they might take up on a single machine.

Puyager is a concept that does mix these two seemingly different worlds together in a harmonious manner and with a compact design. Of course, it can’t just be a low, disc-shaped machine like most robot vacuum cleaners on the market. It would be too cramped to include the necessary parts for sucking in, filtering, and blowing out air. At the same time, however, a box or cylindrical design similar to typical air purifiers would be too bulky, not to mention unappealing for something that will be moving around your house.

The shape chosen for this robot is an egg or at least the top half of one. This allows the bottom section to still be that round shape that makes robot vacuums efficient in moving around while leaving enough room for electronics and air circulation. Unlike a simple dome, however, Puyager has a gap between the left and right halves of this egg, providing an outlet for clean air to be released. The top edge of this gap houses the touch-sensitive controls that let owners minimally operate the machine without having to reach for their phone.

The end result is a product that looks stylish and elegant, a perfect fit for any home. Even while stationary, Puyager looks like a piece of decoration more than an appliance, adding a bit of visual value whether it’s busy purifying the air or just idling. Admittedly, its performance in actually detecting poor air quality and rolling over there to clean it is something that still needs to be tested, but the design is definitely a good starting point for a more modern and more human-centric solution to air quality at home.

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Self-driving car concept is a hotel-like sleeping pod on wheels

Autonomous vehicles are still a somewhat controversial topic these days, but even detractors and critics will begrudgingly admit that it is the inevitable future. Given a foolproof and safe implementation, it opens up plenty of opportunities for people to do more during their travels, especially over very long distances. They can be more productive with work, spend more quality time with family, or simply get a good night’s sleep in transit. The latter isn’t exactly comfortable to do with today’s car designs, but that’s only if you don’t let go of current conventions and limitations. This design concept for a mobile sleeping pod, in contrast, pulls out all the stops and demonstrates what’s possible with the right technologies, the right design, and especially the right shape.

Designer: Peter Stulz

When viewed from its profile, the Swift Pod looks more like a gigantic motorcycle, a vehicle that stands on two wheels only. It’s definitely not your regular motorbike, even disregarding the significantly larger size, because it looks more like a cross between a bike and a car from the way it has a cabin instead of just a seat. When viewed from the top, however, the vehicle is revealed to actually run on three wheels, forming an odd triangle shape instead of a typical box you’d expect from cars.

The choice of the shape isn’t for appearance’s sake, though, but was made to maximize available space inside while minimizing the vehicle’s size. After all, the Swift Pod is designed to have two adult-sized beds inside, one on each side of the triangle, in addition to two chairs, amenities, and, of course, the vehicle’s actual hardware and components. The concept, after all, is for a mode of transportation that will let you sleep through your journey, at least if you want to. There’s plenty of space for two people to do anything, including working if necessary.

The concept was inspired by how some people are able to get a decent amount of sleep on trains and planes, and that’s without a comfortable bed or other conveniences. With Swift Pod, you not only have a comfortable place to recline but also an entertainment system, snacks and beverages, and plenty of storage for your belongings. What it doesn’t have room for is a human or physical driver.

The Swift Pod concept only works if autonomous driving has reached a point where one can really entrust their safety to these invisible drivers. The design envisions an extremely smart self-driving vehicle that, after booking a ride like a taxi, would be able to determine the best path toward your destination and navigate the roads safely. While the default is to simply go from point A to point B in one go, the system also has room for stop-over breaks where you can get off, eat some heavier meals, and freshen up before you take the next leg of your journey in the comfort of a bed.

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Mercedes Benz Vision iMobility combines style and functionality for ultra-relaxed commutes in urban landscape

The future of level 5 autonomous mobility is largely going to revolve around relaxation and the whole experience of getting from point A to B.  Inspired by the protective shell of turtles, the Mercedes Benz Vision iMobility concept emphasises efficiency and resilience in a smooth curvy design. The form factor in particular is a combination of style and functionality, creating a bridge between cutting-edge automotive technology and the organic beauty of nature.

The designer imagines this vehicle to dot the landscape of four-wheelers in the year 2050 where cars communicate with the traffic systems, other vehicles and urban environment to optimize routes and bump-up safety. A time when autonomy, connectivity and sustainability are the driving force of innovation. Richard states, “Vision iMobility isn’t just a means of reaching a destination; it’s a dynamic and adaptive space that caters to individual needs.”

Designer: Richard Huang

The nature-inspired details don’t end there as the headlights get the reminiscence of a dwarf arrowhead flower. The front-open design of the vehicle makes it easy for the occupant to enter the cozy relaxing interiors and the compact shape gives the iMobility flexibility in tight urban spaces. Running out of juice in this electric vehicle is out of the question as it can be charged wirelessly just by parking on the readily available charging junctions.

Since we are talking about complete autonomy, there’s no need for driving hardware like a steering wheel, brakes or accelerator. The interior space is rather a personalized oasis for laying back, gaming in VR or simply exploring different realities in metaverse worlds. The small size no a limitation as there is enough tactically designed space for sleeping in comfort. In fact the interior is flexible enough to be arranged for different scenarios. Mercedes Benz Vision iMobility truly becomes an extension of the personal space for self-expression and fulfillment of the rider.

Richard has mustered up the idea of this compact autonomous vehicle for east Asian workforce who have to deal with demanding work cultures, long working hours and intense competition. I believe this EV could be the perfect personal transportation for individuals living in any urban space.

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GAC Van Life autonomously navigates using stars + has versatile interiors for adventure seeker’s needs

Are adventure trips and camping always at the back of your mind? Then Chinese automaker, GAC Design has got you covered with its latest vehicle concept revealed at the 2023 Milan Design Week, Italy. The inspiration for this camper vehicle comes from the lingering need for a long-journey commuter which is a viable alternative to airplanes.

The four-wheeled off-roader as a part of the GAC Car Culture Series is built for extended journeys and with its zero-emission credentials gets brownie points for the health of Earth too. This boxy vehicle called Van Life, is true to its namesake and resembles an expedition vehicle destined for Mars, but for now, we stick to its utility for the planet we call home.

Designer: GAC Design

The electric concept is proposed to have a low carbon footprint since it’s crafted from lightweight materials salvaged from recycled materials including plastic, aluminum and carbon fiber. Being low on weight means, the vehicle has a far better range than any other concept vehicle destined for a real-life version. Even the solid-state battery, that’s safer and longer-lasting compared to current generation ones – is made from environmentally friendly materials.

According to Stéphane Janin, Director of GAC Advanced Design Milan, “This concept car highlights what is great about being able to go wherever you want to. We believe that cars are not just objects that move people from A to B, but also machines that create good memories.”

The all-electric Van Life has symmetrical proportions for a balanced stance – while riding tough terrains like mud, sand or rocks – aided by its massive treaded wheels with retractable flaps for superior traction control and high ground clearance. It can also move forward in autonomous mode with the four LiDAR sensors doing all the fancy work of analyzing what lies ahead. The EV uses a state-of-the-art GPS navigation system and in places where there’s no connectivity, the intelligent system uses the position of the stars to navigate accurately.

On the inside is where the undeniable USP of Van Life is evident. There are two seats and the rear has space for storing camping essentials. The benches can be folded out and slid out of the vehicle to enjoy the outdoors and extend the living area even further. Restful sleep during the night is also guaranteed with a modular arrangement that makes maximum use of space.

Then there is the orbital frame that embodies most of the interior and is used for attaching or detaching necessary items at will. Anything from a bag or smartphone to a tray or hammock. The sun’s energy-absorbing orbital frame doubles as a power source for juicing up electrical systems or onboard gadgets. Although the side windows are a bit claustrophobic, the panoramic sunroof makes up for it.

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Autonomous stealth fighter-inspired bike is meant for high-profile war combat

Future battles are going to be fought between robotic armored machines that’ll have no limit on the number of limbs, physical limitations, or firepower capabilities. A huge chunk of that AI-dominated battlefield will be dotted by vehicles never seen before.

Although I’m not trying to create a plot for sci-fi movies, more or less, things will be radically different in future wars than we have. Not a soul will be lost, unless AI develops a consciousness of its own!

Designer: Fang E

This bike of the future carrying a resonant Batmobile vibe is not meant for the Gotham vigilante, but for modern warfare in a dystopian world. Dubbed the Motorcycle Drone, this mean machine scouts for hidden threats in hostile military spaces or restoring order with sensible policing in volatile cities. The vehicle has a reinforced armored shell for the roughest situations, and the options to increase weaponry arsenal or enhance battery power when needed.

Motorcycle Drone will be fully autonomous and AI-enabled for completing high-profile tasks comprehensively. One huge advantage of such a machine is the ability to persist in war missions or city patrolling needs 24×7 without any possible human error. While the matte black two-wheeled machine seems to have a connection to Batman of the future, the similarities end there. This bike is designed for a future dominated by robots, cyborgs, drones and of course super intelligent AI that could have a consciousness of its own.

The bike’s side wings can contract into the frame or open based on the driving conditions and speed. A drag reduction configuration conceals the sideburns to cut through the dense airflow. For low-speed drives, the wings can again pop out for better balance. Motorcycle Drone should be propelled by an electric drivetrain and have a stealth presence for covert missions. The edgy design dominantly leaning towards the back suggests the machine is built for hardcore tasks only.

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Autonomous Fruit-Picking Drones: Harvesting the Future

Developed by Tevel Aerobotics, the Flying Autonomous Robot harvester is a collection of tethered drones that can pick ripe fruit from trees. The robots can analyze a piece of fruit for color and ripeness before picking it with its suction arm, being able to identify fruit from leaves or other objects. That’s good because the last thing you want is your fruit-harvesting robots to come back with a bunch of squirrels instead of apples.

The robots have already successfully been used to harvest peaches, apples, nectarines, and plums, with California-based HMC Farms, which is pleased with the results. According to HMS vice president Drew Ketelsen, “The years of work we’ve put into cultivating high-density orchards are paying off as we implement technology like Flying Autonomous Robot harvesting. This project is still in an early stage, but the future potential is very exciting.” Exciting being relative to just how thrilling you find robotic fruit harvesting to begin with, of course.

First, harvesting fruit to power the humans; next, harvesting humans to power the Matrix. It’s only a matter of time. And I don’t want to be here when it happens, just for the record. And it will happen. I’ve read a lot of robot fan fiction, and 9 out of 10 ends poorly for us fleshbags.

[via TechEBlog]

Meet DEX, an autonomous quadruped cargo robot that can navigate factories in the future

It’s like Boston Dynamics’ robot dog… but with the actual ability to ‘fetch’ cargo within factories and warehouses!

Named DEX for its Dual EXtendable legs (as well as a play on the word dexterity), this purpose-built robot from Schaeffler is a champion of mobility, with jointed legs as well as wheels that allow it to move across flat or uneven surfaces, work up and down ramps, and even climb stairs to get to different parts of a factory floor. Equipped with a flat platform on top and a host of sensors immediately beneath it, DEX can autonomously move around, carrying cargo from point A to B while easily avoiding obstacles that may come in its way.

Designer: Schaeffler (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.

Best described as an AMR (Autonomous Mobile Robot), DEX works in conjunction with human workers, aiding them and understanding their needs and requirements to improve efficiency. Through its unique design that can autonomously navigate a wide variety of surfaces, DEX “reimagines the dexterity and intelligence of collaborative robots”.

“DEX has a seamless way of understanding both non-verbal and verbal communication”, say the designers at Schaeffer. “With other robots, they work collectively to reduce the strain on workers. DEX can also be controlled using hand gestures and voice commands, thereby reducing the complexity of interacting with robots.”

While autonomous robots have been around for years now (in warehouses, if not the streets), what makes DEX so incredibly innovative is its format. Sure, anyone can attach sensors to a forklift truck, but DEX’s ability to conquer terrains, maneuver tight spaces, and also avoid obstacles with great reflexes is something not every AMR can boast of.

DEX does this through its uniquely designed bi-directional extendable legs that allow the robot to move up and down and even forward and backward. 4 sets of 360° wheels give it even more maneuverability with multiple degrees of freedom, along with the ability to move smoothly and rapidly across flat surfaces. When DEX encounters slopes, terrain, or stairs, the wheels take the proverbial back seat and the 4 legs kick into action, making it go from a rolling robot to a walking one. All throughout its use, a ring of lights around it synchronizes with the robot’s movement, communicating intention clearly to ensure seamless human/robot collaboration.

The DEX is a Best of Best winner of the Red Dot Design Concept Award for the year 2022.

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