AKXY2 is a sustainable car concept that wants to turn every trip into a picnic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things in the world, including how we envision tomorrow’s cars.

Self-driving cars were, at one point, the obsession of the automotive industry. To some extent, the drive is still there, but the hype has died down a bit as manufacturers, developers, and designers try to reevaluate their priorities and objectives. Admittedly, many of the newer car concepts that appeared in the past two years would only make sense if the cars could drive themselves, but the focus is less on the technology or the commuting experience and more on well-being and sustainability. The latter is particularly lacking in many visions of the future, where the technologies and luxuries of these cars would translate to even higher carbon emissions and waste. One concept, however, tries to go the metaphorical extra mile to envision a car that is sustainable, satisfying, and also social.

Designer: Asahi Kasei

Many future car concepts naturally put the convenience and comfort of passengers at the forefront. After all, why would you even bother with having a car drive itself if not for the safety, pleasure, and well-being of the people inside? As with many hi-tech visions, previous concepts didn’t pay particular mind to the impact these vehicles would have on the environment. They might run on green energy, but the materials and resources used to build these cars might still be harmful to the environment.

AKXY2, short for “Asahi Kasei x You 2,” is a future mobility concept that makes sustainability one of the three core pillars of its design. In addition to running on electricity rather than fuel, its interior is designed using materials that are made from recycled PET bottles, other wastes, or plant-derived substances. Asahi Kasei already has such a floor mat made from plant-derived materials and is touted to be better than PET fibers. Even the surface coating, which has the severest impact on the environment, will switch to using something more sustainable and environment-friendly.

Of course, the AKXY2 concept isn’t just all about sustainability. Inside and out, the car concept embodies the new priorities that the pandemic has caused throughout the world. Sanitation and anti-microbial materials have become a key feature in many new products, and this car will have them on many of its surfaces. People have also realized the importance of social connections, even if just being able to see other people out in the world. So rather than enclose passengers in an opaque capsule, the AKXY2 employs a transparent dome that lets people easily see the world and people outside.

In fact, the AKXY2’s design is closer to a boat than a car, with a “bubble” that exposes riders to the outside world while still keeping them safe inside that zone. The car’s cabin design, as well as the way it opens up, is almost akin to a trailer with a picnic setup. Rather than a vehicle that is simply used to transport people and keep isolated groups within their own islands, Asahi Kasei envisions a future where cars connect people not only to each other but also to the world they live in.

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The Chevy Cobalt ETV (Extra Terrestrial Vehicle) Is out of This World

Crafted by car kit maker and Florida Man Mike Vetter, the ETV (Extra Terrestrial Vehicle) is a custom body kit that makes cars look like their gullwing doors are about to open and a bunch of bug-eyed aliens are going to crawl out with laser blasters to conquer earth. I must have one.

The Mike Vetter ETV can actually be fit on several different vehicles, but this one was built on a 2008 Chevy Cobalt, powered by a 2.2 liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine producing a blistering 148 horsepower. I sure hope Mike includes racing harnesses in the kit!

This particular model, which was previously on display at the London Motor Museum (presumably in The Hall of the Future) prior to its closure due to the COVID pandemic, is now being sold through the Bonhams auction house, which estimates it’ll fetch between $10,000 – $16,000. For reference, Mike’s original asking price was $95,000, so it’s really a steal if you think about it. Just don’t think about it too hard. Or at all, just raise that bidding paddle and buy it for me.

[via Jalopnik]

Project DORO future mobility vision uses street lamps as parking spaces

Most of the concepts for cars of the future simply focus on getting from point A to point B, but one design gives an interesting solution to the problem of parking.

Carmakers naturally tend to focus on how advanced cars will be in the future. They often put an emphasis on the conveniences of self-driving vehicles in an effort to reassure the public that today’s mishaps won’t exist in the future, at least ideally. Vehicles, however, won’t always be in transit, and while those visions and concepts might help solve traffic problems, many of them don’t address today’s parking problems. A more holistic mobility vision has to include the entire ecosystem, and that’s the idea behind this street project concept that makes a rather unusual proposition for solving parking space problems.

Designer: Park Chanwoong

The idea starts with street lamps, which the designer considers to be one of the more wasteful and underutilized spaces on streets. Of course, street lamps can be utilized for other purposes, like collecting environmental data, holding security cameras, or even using projectors to display ads on the ground. Project DORO, however, tries to put that unused space beneath the street lamp to better use as a parking space of the future, but it also requires a different kind of car to go along with it.

Project DORO is actually a rather complex system that involves three parts of mobility. There is the actual base platform that actually has the wheels and the engine. It can detach from the cabin, which is the part where human passengers and drivers sit and connect to other cabins. This means that parked cabins that don’t need to go anywhere any time soon can have their platforms used on other cabins, potentially reducing the number of “complete” cars that have to be manufactured and be on the road.

The cabin itself is an interesting exercise in design, where the interior is not unlike a living room, with the use of materials like wood, ivory, and fabric. Unlike most future car concepts, however, the capsule-like cabin has large windows that give passengers a clear view of the outside world, almost doing away with walls entirely. Presumably, these are one-way windows for the sake of people’s privacy.

The street lamps in Project DORO serve as the home for unused cabins that are detached from their bases. The cabins are raised high above the ground to serve as shelter from rain or shade from the sun, though it might be debatable if anyone would want to stand underneath a heavy cabin. In the project’s vision, however, these street lamps line roads and highways, so cars will be traveling underneath these hanging capsules. Sidewalk parking that clogs up traffic will be a thing of the past!

Project DORO is admittedly a rather grandiose and complex system, one that presumes there will be a reliable network of bases, cabins, and parking street lamps available in the future. That said, it is one of the few concepts that actually give the problem of parking some thought and doesn’t simply presume that the cars of the future cars will always be moving on roads and highways.

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LG OMNIPOD car concept gives a new whole meaning to living on the road

You don’t need to always wear a VR headset to enjoy the Metaverse, especially if you can just stay in your self-driving car and be at your office even while on your way to your vacation.

CES 2022 was the first time in two years that the annual event returned to face-to-face interactions. Almost ironically, a lot of the showcases there revolved around virtual experiences, particularly the kind that the Metaverse movement is trying to push. Being physically present in one place while also virtually experiencing a different location at the same time is one of the biggest premises of this convergence of technologies, but most of those involve wearing some form of headset, be it VR goggles or more stylish AR glasses. The Metaverse isn’t limited to that, of course, and LG’s vision of the future of mobility tries to show how you can relax or even work while in transit to a completely different location.

Designer: LG

Like many futuristic car concepts, LG’s OMNIPOD is filled with screens. Not just the dash or front panels, mind, but even the sides and the ceiling of the vehicle. LG calls it an “expansive tunnel screen” or “Meta-environment screen,” and it’s the part of the car then tries to immerse the rider or riders in a virtual environment or, alternatively, give them a peek of the outside world without opening any windows.

The car isn’t just about displaying videos or virtual offices, though. Every part of the vehicle is designed to make a person feel like they’re in anything but a moving car. There’s a modular mini-fridge, for example, that even includes an induction range on top for cooking on the go. The spacious cabin of the OMNIPOD can be an office space or a recording studio, depending on your need at the moment. And, of course, the car’s screens will change to create a virtual environment that makes you feel as if you’re really at work, perhaps to help boost your productivity.

Given the events of the past two years, there are also elements of sanitation in this moving living space. An “Air Shower,” for example, blasts passengers with negatively ionized air to remove dust and germs, while an LG Styler can hold your coats and shoes to sanitize them and keep them clean until you need to wear them again. And after each trip, the car’s virtual assistant Reah will flood the cabin with UV light and get robot vacuums rolling to prepare for its next use.

While some of these technologies might already be available today, all these futuristic conveniences hinge on electric vehicles perfecting their self-driving capabilities. The LG OMNIPOD does have the option of manual driving, but without the typical steering wheel and controls anyway. It’s not going to replace RVs and cabins on wheels, especially with its lack of bathrooms and kitchens, but LG’s vision of future mobility does interesting points and questions, like how humans of the future might find it harder to be physically social when they don’t even have to step out of their cars most of the time.

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Polestar Passion-Sharer car concept can display any sky in its cramped cabin

There are plenty of visions and concepts of self-driving cars in the distant future. Some of them retain the conventional seating arrangement inside, just without the steering wheel and with plenty of touch screens. Others turn all seats inward, inviting conversations and social connections while the robot inside the car safely takes you to your destination. There might be times, however, when you just want to sit back and relax, enjoying the skies while coasting the future’s highways. In that future, you might not even have to be limited to your own location and gaze upon the starry skies of Tokyo on your way to work in New York.

Designer: Xiqiao Wang

The majority of futuristic car concepts seem to be content with decking the dashboard and windows with screens, some of them interactive even. These utilize almost all visible sides of the car’s interior to maximize the number of things people can see and touch. Strangely enough, all these visions leave out the roof of the cabin plain and boring, almost like they were stuck in the 2000s, a limitation that this Passion-Sharer self-driving car wants to break free from.

Although mostly inspired by Polestar’s Precept in terms of the basic aesthetic, this concept almost takes the language to the extreme and squashes the car almost to a box. The Passion-Sharer has sharper lines and edges than a typical car, and its lowered cabin makes you wonder if there’s even space for human passengers.

The secret is that the seats are actually reclined so far back that they’re almost horizontal, an angle that is more associated with sleeping rather than riding a car. This odd position is all for the purpose of having a clear view of the tinted roof that acts as the only literal window to the outside world. Most of the time, however, the Passion-Sharer’s passengers will be viewing someone else’s sky, or at least that’s the idea.

The “sky screen,” as it is called, can display real-time views of another Passion-Sharer owner’s sky, which would make it feel like they’re sharing the same sky. That does require that there are other car owners in transit during that time, though it’s entirely possible to simply have recorded footage for convenience. Of course, that touch screen interface can be used for other purposes, and it might be the only interface available in this car anyway.

To some extent, this Polestar-inspired Passion-Sharer carries a lot more safety risks than other self-driving car concepts. Given the inclined seats and lack of other direct controls, it would be almost impossible for humans to intervene in case of an emergency. It is a concept that requires autonomous driving technologies to be perfected before people can peacefully enjoy a serene sky without minding the heavy traffic in front of them.

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A movable knob puts a tactile twist on the modern touch screen car dashboard

Touch screens are great and all, but they aren’t always the best solutions for controlling things, especially when you need to keep one hand on the dash and both eyes on the road.

The cars of the future are imagined to have almost no physical controls. They might not even have steering wheels if the promise of self-driving vehicles gets fulfilled perfectly. Buttons and knobs will be a thing of the past, replaced by slick screens you can simply glide your finger on. Reality, however, still needs to catch up with our imaginations, and our fingers and hands are still critical in how we interact with cars.

Designer: Gabor Jutasi

Touch screens provide more controls and functionality in a small amount of space, while buttons, dials, and switches are not only limited functionality but also restricted by the laws of physics. Until we finally make tactile touch screens a reality, however, there is one thing that physical controls can do that touch screens can’t provide. More often than not, you don’t have to look at a button to know that it’s on or off, nor do you have to look at a dial when twisting its knob.

This “no look” functionality is critically important when driving, where your eyes should be on the road, not the touch screen. At the same time, we can’t feasibly turn back the clock on car dashboards, so we need a compromise that takes these needs and limitations into account. Enter the Electric Car Dashboard, where a simple, movable knob does the trick.

Actually, that knob is anything but simple and is a sophisticated device on its own. It has a dynamic display on the top that changes its content depending on where you place it on the dash. It also acts as a button you can push to access more functionality that would otherwise require a second knob.

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The idea is that this dial gives drivers the necessary physical control they can turn in order to adjust the volume or the temperature without even looking at the screen. The knob’s function isn’t fixed, however, and you can move it to a different portion of the screen to make it control a different setting, like skipping to the next or previous track in a playlist. And in case there’s more than just one setting in that position, you push the knob’s button to switch to the next set.

This kind of multi-functional dynamic knob isn’t just a concept, though. Microsoft already demonstrated this in action with the Surface Dial. Of course, there are plenty of things to iron out with this Electric Car Dashboard concept, and it isn’t a foolproof solution either. It is, however, a very interesting one that creatively combines the digital and the physical in a way that doesn’t compromise one or the other.

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Audi AI-Climber with a flying rig for pitching tent on steep cliffs is bliss for rock climbers

Rock climbing as a sport challenges the limits of human endurance to the extreme, and enthusiasts have to ensure everything is in place to make the exploits in the outdoors. Having an exciting journey in the mountains while being ultra-safe is important for every rock climber, and who would have thought an off-roading vehicle could do more than just ferry you to the base camp.

The Audi AI-Climber is a concept targeted specifically for rock climbers who want to challenge themselves and break through the limits of exploration. Car design student Xiqiao Wang has conceptualized this rugged off-roading set of wheels for outdoor rock climbing lovers by envisioning the vehicle for three different modes.

Designer: Xiqiao Wang

The first one is the obvious ‘Driving Mode’ to ensure incredible off-roading experience on any kind of terrain, the second one is the ‘Protector Mode’ to full-proof the safety of climbers in the Rockies, and the third one is ‘Resting Mode’ for comfortable sleep during the night time in the safety of the four-wheeler or even being suspended from the rock wall.

In the Protector Mode, the car turns into an intelligent belayer for solo adventurers who don’t have the liberty of a human belayer. There’s an elastic fall buffer wherein the climber can pull the rope in case of emergencies – as the climber falls down slowly to avoid any injuries. Also, there are two kinds of climbing protection options – the Lead climbing protection, wherein the rope is connected at multiple protection points, and the Top climbing protection, where the rope goes around the anchor. The vehicle itself is loaded with the mechanism to provide single rope, twin rope, or half rope, depending on the climber’s needs.

The most interesting bit of the geometric Audi AI-Climber is the Resting Mode, in which the rear part loaded with a hanging tent detaches and is capable of taking flight solo. The whole rig flies to the anchor point on a steep cliff and anchors to the rock. Thereafter the tent deploys automatically, and the daring rock climber can enjoy the perfect night from the perfect vantage point. For the less daring climbers, the rig can be pitched on solid ground too.

Other highlighting bits of the niche off-road vehicle are its terrain-adaptable tires with retractable treads, which can be employed in case more traction is needed. The interiors are designed for two travelers to comfortably sit back and enjoy the ride to the ultimate destination before the daring rock-climbing feat is undertaken!

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Mitsubishi-inspired Shinkansen car imagines high-speed travel of the future

When talking about futuristic cars, most probably imagine self-driving automobiles that free their drivers to sit back, relax, and connect with other people inside. These visions often involve highways that are so clean and spacious that it’s possible to conveniently and safely cruise roads without bumping into another self-driving car. Given today’s traffic congestion, however, that’s a far too idealistic vision. One concept sticks a bit closer to reality while leaving the doors of possibility wide open, envisioning how cars can travel more quickly using the same technologies that power Japan’s famous bullet trains.

Designer: Timur Dautov

People want to travel fast, but few actually know how to do so safely, especially when it comes to staying on the right lane. Traveling at high speeds on a more or less straight path is something that Japan’s Shinkansen trains have already had mastered for decades. Unsurprisingly, this serves as the seed for this concept of a Shinkansen car that can travel both on regular city roads and on high-speed maglev tracks.

Taking inspiration from both the N700 train that launched into service in 2007 as well as Mitsubishi’s design language, the “Mitsubishi Shinkansen” exhibits a sleek, aerodynamic design that is almost reminiscent of a real bullet. The concept doesn’t exactly show passenger doors, so the design looks unbroken and whole, reducing the possible air friction that will come from seams.

What gives this car concept its dual capabilities are the retractable “fins” along its side that slide out when the car is traveling on a maglev highway. The magnets in these fins help propel the car at high speeds, pretty much like how bullet trains work today. Additionally, the maglev track can also charge the car while en route, thanks to power coils on the car’s belly as well as on the ground, just like today’s wireless charging technologies.

The Mitsubishi Shinkansen offers an interesting and slightly different glimpse of future travel, utilizing tracks that will let cars travel safely at high speeds. At the same time, it also showcases a futuristic car design that embraces Mitsubishi’s design language, like its “dynamic shield” fascia, reinterpreted in a way that would look out of this world when standing beside the carmaker’s current roster. Like a bullet, its form clearly marks it for speed while still maintaining an approachable design that makes it into what the designer calls a “car for the whole family.”

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BMW 8 x Jeff Koons Edition is like a superhero comic book on wheels

Some cars are designed to be speed demons, both in their engines as well as in their forms. Every part of a car, of course, is designed not just for looks but also for aerodynamics. That doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to express that idea of speed in other ways, from colors to decals. And if you’re going to express speed with something that will really turn heads, you might as well do it in one of the most expressive media available: comic books.

Designer: Jeff Koons

Comic books have experienced a renaissance period in the past decade or so, partly thanks to the almost maddening number of films and TV shows made around them during that period. While there will be many who will remain unfamiliar with the characters from Marvel’s and DC’s fictional universe, almost everyone is familiar with the sequential art of comics, or at least the visual idioms used in the medium.

That familiarity and popularity is perhaps what inspired famed artist Jeff Koons’ to take a stab at mixing comics and cars to convey that idea of speed. Not that the 2023 BMW M850i Gran Coupe needs any help in sending that message, especially when it’s already burning rubber. This special collaboration, however, is almost just as over the top as popular comics are in getting the message across, combining specially chosen lines, colors, iconography, and even sound effects in words.

On the outside, you are treated to a sea of blue broken by patches of yellow on the front and back. Koons chose the color to give the impression of space where a speedster would be traveling at the speed of light, or something like that. The car’s sides are decorated with white bursts, a poof, and a loud POP!, common devices used in comics to denote an explosion of action and speed. And if that weren’t enough, the BMW 8’s trunk depicts a really big bang, almost reminiscent of the 60s Batmobile’s exhaust.

The interior colors contrast sharply with the ones outside and have a stronger superhero vibe. The alternating blue and red might immediately bring to mind those characters that embraced the same motif, from Superman to Spider-Man to Wonder Woman. Sitting inside might make you feel like such a superhero rolling into action, traveling at speeds most mortals can’t even experience.

That said, most mortals probably won’t even be able to experience this 8 x Jeff Koons collab. Just like a limited edition comic book, this specially-designed comic book car will be “printed” only 99 times and will fetch a six-digit price tag when it finally rolls out.

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Ford Clint self-driving car concept envisions more private carpooling

Clint Future of Community

The discussion on the future of travel has always been open. It’s actually unclear since we still live in a pandemic world. But like anything, there are endless solutions to problems that often arise.

A young Polish industrial designer has recently introduced a design that may be considered by those who believe in carpooling. Mikołaj Nicer teamed up with Ford Europe to complete the design. The project was developed last year with the aim of improving the vehicle interior as a response to the time.

Designer: Mikolaj Nicer

Clint Ford Travel

Two years into this pandemic, people around the world are still thinking of ways how to improve everything in their life whether at home, for work, business, or even transportation. Moving from one point to another is still crucial. There are groups that still carpool but with social distancing still being encouraged, it’s important this part is considered.

For commuters, privacy is more important than ever. CLINT is a solution for people who want flexibility. Those who want privacy while still in a cramped space can trust the Clint to give them that.

Clint Car Travel InteriorThe CLINT is mainly a special design of a vehicle interior. It includes a separate entrance for every passenger. Every traveler is given the chance to spruce up the space for all your individual demands. The era of autonomous vehicles may still be in its early stages but it can be fun to imagine the possibilities. Commuters can find it helpful they can enjoy the interiors that suit their needs.

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The CLINT offers different modes. There is the Social Mode where all passengers can interact. The Pair Mode is for two people. The Privacy Mode is for those who really want to be alone and be separated from other passengers.

Clint Ford Social Mode 2

Clint Future of Commuting Pair

Vehicle interior design is promising. It’s being explored these days more than ever. There is a call to go smart and sustainable. But in this world where we’re getting used to not seeing people outside the comfort of our home, a bit of privacy matters.

Clint Ford Future of Commuting

Mikolaj Nicer’s design for the interior vehicle appears like a futuristic business class seat on your favorite airline. There’s also a small table where you can place your smartphone or laptop—just like inside the airplane.

Clint Design Future

The future of commuting will soon be transformed with innovations like this. Such give us hope of a future that is mindful of others’ privacy, protection, and purpose.

Clint Travel CarsClint Ford Design

Clint Future of Commuting and Travel

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