The Shape of Things to Come
More specifically how automation and electric motors will reshape our transportation experience in the very near future.
This is another example where automation will soon be brought front and center into the lives of the everyday person.
The automobile is a unique part of American culture, certainly not only American culture but the horseless carriage is especially meaningful to the American populous- it says something about ones personality, standing in life, makes a cultural statement, and is one of those those few items that are used for both business and pleasure and can be both excruciating and exhilarating depending on the context.
That’s all about to change.
The shape of the vehicle is dictated by the mechanical wonders required to transfer the kinetic motion and energy from the engine to the wheels.
Electric motors are incredibly simplistic when compared to their wildly outdated and monstrous combustion based counterparts.
The simplicity, relatively low cost and precision of control offered by “brushless” electric motors means cars can be shaped like anything you want them to. Hypothetically each wheel could have a smaller independent electric motor each controlled and coordinated by a single software system. Adjustment could be made individually to each motor allowing for independent motion of each wheel to accommodate terrain, road conditions and individual driving maneuvers.
Hypothetically (I’m going to say that a lot here since I have yet to build an electric vehicle yet, so in practice there may be some gotchas. For now, let’s just have some fun with this)
So, hypothetically the freedom of the electric motor means that cars… don’t have to be shaped like cars anymore.
Take a look at the Mercedes F015 concept that seeks to reimagine the transportation experience.
Still this concept is remarkably restrained and remains fairly car-like, that might show a cultural bias regarding what a vehicle experience held by the designers or perhaps those imagineers see a cultural bias of potential buyers.
In this next photo we can see the vehicle returned to a neutral car-like state:
This doesn’t just limit us to how we experience transportation on our commute- how about an overnight automated car ride from New York to Chicago?
While this does look incredibly comfortable… it looks a bit too close to a coffin for me, but their design heart is in the right place:
This is probably a little more like it:
For the next generation of luxury vehicles designers might take inspiration of the cabin experience one might have had on the Romantic train lines like the Orient Express we only seem to see in movies these days:
What if this was your next commute? How much work could you get done on the way into the office? Perhaps you could get a nicer house a bit father out in the country if you didn’t mind your commute and could be productive along the way.
Automation plus electric vehicles means our transportation experience will be changing drastically in the near future.
I just wish I could shape that future.