Posting in Architecture
MELBOURNE -- What will the post-fossil fuel car look like? A Melbourne industrial designer visualizes our driverless future.
MELBOURNE – Industrial designer Ali Jafari’s GM (General Motors) XO is an autonomous subcompact car that promises to take you from A to B without injury or negative environmental impact. In marketing speak, it's a shape-shifting car made for city living.
The driverless car’s most distinctive feature is its ability to expand to take extra passengers or cargo. Plus, it can take the hassle out of parking, compressing to fit into small spaces.
The top speed is limited electronically to 100kph with an overall battery range of 80-100km (depending on driving style, road conditions and traffic conditions). It carries a total estimated dry weight of 500-600kg depending on the configuration.
Jafari, a Melbourne designer, is one of many designers to respond to increasing interest in autonomous cars from industry and government. Only last month, the U.S. State of California passed bills for autonomous vehicles.
In Australia, it only takes a brief look at T.V. commercials to see that the popularity of autonomous features is growing. Brands such as Ford, are rushing to include features like auto-park and emergency-stop in their line-up, even in entry-level models.
So what makes Jafari's GM XO a concept worth considering?
Jafari, a contender for the 2012 James Dyson Award, makes no claim to creating new parts or technologies.
He describes the XO as “the gamut of ideas come together in harmony in a single design.”
In the GM XO, Jafari has taken existing autonomous concepts to the next level -- in terms of integration, seamless functionality and blue-sky thinking.
"It is built around the autonomous feature, not the other way around. When you have a car that can reliably and consistently drive itself, why would you need to use features that were designed and introduced 100 years ago for a completely different architecture?” Ali Jafari says.
Some of these ‘outdated’ features include fixed steering wheel; a seating configuration that discourage face-to-face social interaction; and dangerous side doors that allow passengers to step into oncoming traffic.
“The GM XO is the result of re-examining the conventions and redesigning around the new criteria with the firm belief in the underlying concept, not on a half-half approach,” he says.
The design features an intuitive system comprising of various sensors and cameras distributed around the vehicle that constantly feed information to an onboard processor.
“It intelligently guesstimates where they will be in a given time or what will be the near future scenario based on predefined algorithms and the stream of data from its 360-degree sensors,” Jafari says.
The GM XO is also fully aware of its surrounding environment. It is equipped with wireless connectivity to other road users (cars or pedestrians) and can communicate with other elements to form a smart traffic flow that moves in a coordinated pattern to save fuel.
By default, the drive is completely autonomous, with manual control capabilities for certain scenarios, and the mechanical steering wheel and its physical frontal linkages completely removed.
Jafari explains that this will have a great impact on consumption patterns by eliminating the inefficiency of everyday driving by using the right amount of energy in any condition.
The new drive structure also eliminates the human error factor from driving dynamics, so no more fatalities caused by drowsiness or driving under the influence of alcohol. That alone could have a huge impact on costs associated with accidents and life dramas caused by injury or loss of life.
Jafari also anticipates that his car will be cheaper to manufacture. The design has less complicated manufactured structures and therefore makes parts such as the steering column, mechanical linkages, instrument panel (IP) and other conventional car parts, redundant. At this stage, a cost comparison has not been carried out.
The GM XO is also smart enough to enhance its capabilities in light of external elements such as access to urban databases with real-time update of businesses, public services, weather, traffic, local laws and road works.
But environmentally speaking, the GM XO's claim to a zero carbon footprint is dependent on electricity being produced from renewable resources.
The GM XO concept was designed for the General Motors' 2010-11 PACE global conference in Vancouver bringing home multiple awards.
The conceptualization of the exterior and interior started at around the end of 2010 and it formed Jafari’s final year design project and thesis. In July the design won the 2012 Victorian Automobile Chambers of Commerce (VACC) competition.
The target for a functional prototype is set for 2015. However, some of the future-forward features examined within this study are trickling down to consumer markets as popularity for autonomous features grow.
Photos: Ali Jafari.
Oct 30, 2012
itâs so beautiful really this shape shifting car is really coming with the new concept. This would be really unique for everyone.
I found this blog very interesting and I wonder how these cars concepts can make it all possible, shape shifting car is indeed a unique concept. http://www.tyre-shopper.co.uk/tyres/winter
it looks so beautiful to manufacture!"Range Anxiety"; it's still costing as much when it comes to energy usage. http://www.toyswill.com/118-lincoln-navigator-black-alloy-car-models-p-2062.html
What a beautiful design! But it looks so complicated to manufacture! What happens with all those joints when they come together for rain, wind, sooth? they should fit to perfection within each other, also without creaking noises and that will make a very expensive final product, won't it?
On long, boring trips, or in traffic tie-ups, hands-free driving sounds great! One might even take a nap on the longer trip! However, I, myself, will NEVER trust a machine to make all the proper decisions, and be completely automatic. The same goes for aircraft.....there MUST ALWAYS a pilot in command, who should be continually aware of everything around him/her. Auto-parking, auto-lane control and collision avoidance.....great! BUT, you STILL need someone awake and aware, for those situations NO MACHINE can cope with....and, don't worry, Murphy's Law says there WILL always be one! Personally, I enjoy driving, and would NEVER buy one of these 'road cocoons' that insulate you from the road and everything around, just so you can TEXT/watch DVDs/sleep/whatever! One thing I WOULD like is the ability to arrive somewhere, get out, and let the auto go find a parking space (like New York City!). Then, when you get ready to leave, it comes back for you!
Why not keep all of its features, but, make it also with fossil-fuel capabilities. If the vehicle was going to be worthwhile purchasing for city or local driving, then, it would be a lot more desirable if it came with longer-range driving capabilities. And, it might even have less weight to lug around, since, batteries plus electric motors are, in a lot of cases, heavier than a small 4-cylinder gas-powered engine. Also, a shape shifting car would not lessen the amount of weight of the vehicle, which means that, no matter the size or shape, it's still costing as much when it comes to energy usage. The biggest drawback is that, even by 2015, and perhaps for many years after that, renewable energy sources will still be a lot more expensive than the less expensive and much easier to attain, fossil fuels. The XO may be more attractive than the current EV options, but, it will still have the same negatives when it comes to the power sources to make it go.
"It is equipped with wireless connectivity to other road users (cars or pedestrians)" Oh yeah, here we bicyclists get ignored again. Bonehead move.
let's see: a steering wheel that's not fixt in place? wait-and-see with that. a new configuration for face-to-face conversation? we're trying to do away with distractions, not add to it. self driving? what happens to my illusion that i'm in control? that's for the future; for the present i can park my own car, thank you. am i so lazy, incompetent and insecure that i'm going to hand over this skill? and the mistaken idea that automation will make us safe? totally? what about being rear-ended? finally, doors that will save me from oncoming traffic? if i'm stupid enough to get hit, the world may be better off w/o me. i've been exiting in traffic lo these many years. finally, all this will have to wait until we perfect turning our succeeding generations into robots. in sum, i do like some of the features (safety and otherwise).
The configurability is good because currently, we must buy the vehicle that meets our largest need, even if we rarely use the capability. Occasionally need to carry 7 passengers? Then a small CUV won't do, you have to have a full size crossover, even if you only carry those 7 a few times per year. The addresses that issue. But I'd have to say that many moving parts in the structure sounds like a recipe for rattles! I would still rather drive it myself.
The vehicle will have wireless connectivity to anything in its surrounding which also has wireless capabilities, which includes a bicyclist who carries a wireless device. But, perhaps you can, or someone else can, think of a way to add a wireless capability to a bicycle, which then makes it capable of being recognized by the "smart car". But, a bicycle is normally used by a pedestrian, otherwise known as a person, who might be carrying a wireless device, which would make the need for wireless capabilities on a bicycle, redundant and unneeded.
I think this idea of automated driving is a good idea. The population is aging and this could keep us oldsters in getting around. As the technology is made more bug-free and useful, it could be that driving deaths will become a relic of the past. But I would like to have a manual override. I dislike the thought that the car could be "taken over" by a hacker or rogue cop.
"Occasionally need to carry 7 passengers?" Have you ever heard of Hertz, Avis, National et al, Alan? Makes more sense to me to rent for a few days than to buy a bus just because I need to haul 50 people along occasionally. LOL I love to drive, but in the city I would love to be able to keep on commenting on blogs instead of driving in a traffic jam!