The 2009 Michelin Challenge Design’s aim is to showcase innovative, futuristic vehicle designs that otherwise would not get the chance to be displayed at one of the larger, mainstream auto shows. More than 200 vehicle designs from 48 countries were submitted and were judged by a panel of experts in accordance to the designs’ uniqueness, their emotional appeal, design courage and the developmental potential of the concept. The central them: “BRAVE+BOLD - America's Next Iconic Vehicle.”
The single design that stood out for me was by Eric Seunghun Beak, Korean by birth, but currently studying at the Art Center College of Design in California. In my opinion, his vision is the mode of transport most likely to be implemented in big cities where - by 2015 - congestion will be so incredibly dense that regular vehicles will most likely be banned entirely. One merely needs to look at proposals regarding such measures in present-day metropoles such as London (think congestion charges) or at more radical, future inspired approaches such as Tokyo’s proposal of a “Pyramid City” hovering over its famous bay with a housing capacity of more than 750,000 people. Now who will someone get around in such a place? Definitely not in anything we currently associate with the notion of a ‘car.’
The Metro Cell Vehicle (MCV) in its cellular-mobile stack
Enter Eric Beak's “Metro Cell Vehicle”, the future of inner-city transportation. The concept bases itself on being a semi-private vehicle system, dubbed PDD (pickup-drive-drop) and works on the basis of the driver finding a ‘cellular-mobile stack’, picking up a vehicle and driving it. Once the driver has reached his or her destination the vehicle is simply dropped off without any further transferring done by the person’s self, much like with a shopping cart in a supermarket, which also gets deposited at the nearest stack. The idea is that the system allows the user to drive the vehicle, but maintenance and control ultimately lie with the city itself.
If one considers pairing such an innovative proposal with other technologies being developed for clean, sustainable and hyper-efficient transport, such as magnetic levitation technology, one can only imagine what life will be like in a world unhindered by our addiction to fossil fuels. After all, ‘technology’ simply denotes nothing more than the human instinct to try and make life more valuable and efficient, and therefore it is technology that ultimately sets us. Depriving anyone of such opportunity is just plain selfish…