NANO: Shared vehicles, safe spaces

NANO project’s challenge was to design an open shared vehicle safe space for 2060 and service from booking to arrival that encourages users to feel comfortable on a shared journey with strangers lasting under one hour. The users should have options to interact and communicate with others on the journey if they choose to, they should feel safe and confident at all stages of the journey. The concept is of a four seater taxi service with secure morphing interior design which takes care of the passengers transportation, emotional and physical security needs. The materials that enclose the passenger and the flexible interaction modes improve the users trust of the vehicle, service and brand. The three keywords for NANO are control, safety and reassurance. The question was how can you use a brand lifestyle/ecosystem to improve accessibility and trust? The theme being one company with a variety of services that complement their mobility service.

During the research stage, it was found that people using a shared vehicle preferred sitting in the front seat, since it offered them a seperate entrance and secluded seat. This is a feature that was identified by the design team as a must for this project. As shown in our final design render (Figure 36), focusing on safety, having an entrance per seat means the user is in control at all times. This design feature also works well for the scenario of a small taxi, since 4 entrances will create a relatively small footprint for the vehicle.

Based on both storyboards and the interactions explored, one of the main design challenges was to design a seat that allows for a choice between privacy and interaction with other passengers. Exploration of a variety of enclosures gave an insight into how the seat styling could work. These enclosures included concept phone booths, folding seats, private windows for confidential information, wearables and many others (Figure 37).

Fig 36. NANO Final render of how a user enters the vehicle

Fig 37. NANO final render of the interior showing users interacting with each other or keeping the space private to themselves

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Research Team and Acknowledgement

The MORPH core research team includes Dr. Jiayu Wu, Dr. Sheila Clark, Ashley Kennard, Daniel Quinlan, Katrine Hesseldahl and Sam Johnson. The service designers are Hyojin Bae and Nayoon Lee. The concept designers are Patryk Musielak (NANO), YoungJae Kim (MOSEY), Jiaheng Wei (ENROUTE) and Dinesh Raman (SPAREVROOM). 

MORPH was sponsored by Hyundai-Kia. The financial support enabled the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre of the Royal College of Art to conceive and explore new areas in transport experiences, vehicle design, digital technology integration, mobility systems and other research topics. We would like to thank Hyundai Motor’s German and Korean offices for their involvement in feedback and review during the research.

Special thanks to Dr. Cyriel Diels, Professor Stephen Boyd Davis and Professor Dale Harrow for reviewing and providing feedback during the research and for the final report.

Finally a special thank you to William Renel for designing the MORPH website, Jane Savory, Hannah Adeuya and Lulu Ishaq for managing the finance and logistics.

Launched in 2016 at the Royal College of Art, the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre (IMDC) leads research at the intersection of people, mobility and technology within a complex and changing urban and global environment.

The Royal College of Art is ranked the No. 1 art and design university by the QS World University Rankings, 2021.

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