Design Students Help Drive Interior Vision of Renault Self-driving Cars

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Renault has collaborated with Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London to offer the renowned college’s MA Industrial Design students the exclusive opportunity to experience the French car manufacturer’s pioneering Global Design Studios via a unique competition.

Tasked with the brief of creating an interior for an autonomous-focused car, the winning three-strong Oura project imagined a one-person wearable vehicle suit with a gesture-controlled, ‘head-up display’visorusing virtual reality technology and where the vehicle’s interior is almost completely stripped away and the user interacts more closely with their environment as they travel.

The team beat strong competition from eight other teams of Central Saint Martins students during an intense few months of work which then involved expert design judges whittling down 27 ideas from nine teams to three finalists and one winner, announced at the special ‘Conversations with Clerkenwell’Q&A discussion at Goldsmiths’ Centre as part of Renault’s headline sponsorship of Clerkenwell Design Week.

The two highly-commended runners-up projects were SYEO (Share Your Extra Office) whose team came up with a vehicle that could act as a mobile office with seats that inflated into different configurations (to combat high London rents) and Phantasy, a project which imagined a colourful, configurable three-wheeler party or commuter urban car inspired by product designer Verner Panton.

Anthony Lo, Vice-President, Exterior Design, Groupe Renault, said:

“This has been a really fascinating competition – to see some of the brightest upcoming design talent take on the challenge of how autonomous technology might influence the world of transportation in the future.  I’ve been very impressed by the Central Saint Martins students’ creativity, team work and professionalism throughout the process.  The final three entries all have great merit but we were most impressed by Oura because the designers went beyond the confines of a vehicle and created the most surprising concept.  We look forward to welcoming Oura’s designers– Lily, Evgeniya an Zhenyou – to the Renault Design studios in Paris for their exclusive behind-the-scenes placement very soon.”

One of the specialist judges, Gemma Briggs, a commissioning editor at The Guardian added:

“It was the fresh approach of the students that most impressed me. They had no hang-ups about what autonomous vehicles could be. I feel less afraid about the future of transport now.

Leader of the all-female winning group Oura, Lily Saporta Tagiuri, commented:

“We had to spend hours drawing and discussing, but I think what really drove us all on is that we did this project for ourselves.”

Nicholas Rhodes, Programme Director, Product Ceramic & Industrial Design, Central Saint Martins, UAL said:

“The design of an autonomous vehicle is a major challenge that invites many questions and identifies many problems beyond the purely pragmatic and the infrastructural. The interior design of any such vehicle requires complete rethinking and reframing which brings massive opportunities for new forms of interaction and time use in transit. To be working on such a project with Renault – a truly design-driven company –has been a great opportunity, and a wonderful experience for all of us.”

The CSM UAL competition was a highlight of Renault’s second headline sponsorship of CDW.

The winning students will visit Renault Design at the Technocentre in Paris in early July giving them an extremely rare, and hands-on, chance to see behind the scenes at how Renault designs its future models.

The final projects in more detail  

Renault Oura (winning entry)

Lily Saporta Tagiuri/ Evgeniya Chernykh / Zhenyou Gao

The Renault Oura is a vehicular “suit”that gives the wearer/rider the feeling of weightlessly flying through a cityscape while still on the road. As autonomous technologies have the potential to eliminate collisions, it is possible to radically reduce the physicality of a vehicle designed to absorb impact. The intrinsic safety of this autonomous technology allows us to strip the car of it’s protective structure as well as its driver-centric componentry, resulting in a massively reduced flyweight vehicle. In densely populated city spaces the requirement for compact, flexible, and sustainable transportation is a primary interest addressed by this proposal.

Inspired by an image of a ballet dancer lifting their partner, the wearer/rider is gracefully held and supported by a flexible structure of woven steel, carbon fibre and silicone; suspended – seemingly weightlessly –between spherical wheels driven by electric motors, and stabilised by an array of inbuilt gyroscopes. Pivots around the rider’s waist allows them unrestricted movement whilst in motion, offering the ability to shift from a fully reclining to gliding position as desired.

The best features of an information-rich vehicle interior are amplified in Oura by use of an interactive virtual reality(VR) display within the helmet’s visor. With far more options and flexibility available than ever before, this virtual interior incorporates a sound system, safety interfacing, infotainment, work, and physical activity interfaces. Through this VR interface, the user may switch between manual driving mode and autonomous “glide” for full freedom whilst in transit.

With Renault Oura, nothing stands between the wearer and the road ahead.

Renault SYEO

Whenever, however, wherever

Kyunggeun Bae/ Lucinda Mulholland / Calixte Ollagnier

Renault SYEO delivers flexible workspace to your door whenever and wherever you need it. Its novel interior is instantly reconfigurable according to multiple workspace needs – from intimate private space, to meeting, for brainstorming, video conferencing and more. A SYEO also allows users to temporarily locate their workplace as they see fit. Whether that be at a factory, at a client’s office, in the countryside, or on the beach – Renault SYEO will take you there.

SYEO is an autonomous vehicle that can be summoned on demand to fulfil temporary space requirements. As a driverless vehicle, SYEO gifts its passengers the valuable time spent in transit for productive use. It provides multiple furniture and seating configurations primarily facilitated by use of inflatable seating components providing great flexibility in a compact space package. The format of the interior space is set remotely by use of an intuitive interface, so a SYEO can be booked to arrive preconfigured, or may be rapidly reconfigured on-the-fly. Interactive window panes provide not only visibility to the outside world, but also displays and interface surfaces with which to diagram, sketch and interact more generally with other passengers and remote participants simultaneously.

In densely populated cities rental spaces of quality are at a premium. In particular, this represents a burden for small and start-up businesses for whom high overheads often constrict capacity for growth. Furthermore, businesses need to meet changing circumstances; often rapidly. As workforces ebb and flow according to project requirements, so fixed workspaces rarely offer the efficiency or flexibility required for highly adaptive, collaborative working.

Renault SYEO provides economical opportunities to expand your world of work whenever, however, wherever you require.

Renault Phantasy

Belinda Deschamps / Rui Sun / Mike Simonelli

Renault Phantasy takes the opportunity offered by the autonomous vehicle to redefine the car as a space in transit. If autonomous transport is the future, then cars will become something other than just a way to move efficiently from one place to another.  The car’s interior can change; matching the mood of its passengers, who may be going for a night out, to work, or to play. Comprising of three large rotatable discs arranged vertically alongside each other, passengers can find their most comfortable position depending on what they want to do and/or their mood; becoming a chair, a chaise lounge or a desk.

This configuration, colour and light intensity, can be changed remotely before entering the car by using a wrist-worn device, or be modified whilst travelling by the same means. As the interior is upholstered with luminescent textiles its colour can be changed instantly depending on the preferences of the passenger.

In a self-driving vehicle where you don’t have to control anything, you may simply want to do something else– to relax, communicate, and have space to think. In big cities, traveling can be an effort, so Phantasy is an opportunity to connect with yourself, whilst also providing a particular social space if desired. One that orients passengers into positions that invite interaction.

This design draws inspiration from the 1970 exhibition by the Danish designer Verner Panton, whose Phantasy Landscape presented an immersive, psychedelic approach to interior furnishing. This work presents furniture and lighting integrated in a unified environment. It provided for multiple fixed seating positions to be incorporated. The effect was immersive, inviting its occupants to escape the pressures of daily life.

Renault Phantasy is an homage to this approach, seeking to provide an autonomous, comforting and enjoyable space from which to travel the city.

Courtesy of Renault

This article is part of “The Feed”, a special AutoTech.Today section featuring automotive technology news directly from their sources.



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