Efficient movement—the speed and ease with which we transport ourselves and our goods around the world—is a hallmark of modern industrial life.
Can the living world inspire new roads and vehicles? Can it do even more and become an active part of our transportation infrastructure? Perhaps. Living things and their modes of movement have long served as inspiration for human creation.
Biomimicry in vehicle design
SAILFISH CAR, Frank Stephenson
Stephenson, the design director of McLaren Automotive, has designed a car inspired by the form of a sailfish. The sailfish’s skin reduces its friction in water, enabling it to swim very fast. McLaren’s design applies the friction-reducing texture of sailfish scales to cars. LEARN MORE
Intelligent brake assist technology (IBA), NIssan
Inspired by the boxfish, which behaves as if it has a built-in collision-avoidance system, Nissan’s IBA tech is meant for autonomous cars. With smarter brakes, these self-driving cars could make driving much safer, potentially ending the need for traffic lanes, traffic lights, and indicators. LEARN MORE
Laser range finder technology (LRF), Nissan and Eporo
This technology was inspired by the way bumblebees detect and avoid colliding into objects thanks to their very wide-angle vision system. Only a split-second after an LRF-enabled car detects an obstruction in its path, it can turn its wheels to avoid collision. LEARN MORE
Smart DOTS and Soft MOBS (blimper bus), Terreform One
With gorgeous speculative renderings, Terreform ONE envisions a radical new transportation system structured around various soft blobs and floating blimp-busses instead of dangerous metal cars. This system would enable cars to touch, bump into, and rub up against one another, leading to a very different relationship between people, the buildings around them, and the very notion of a “street” or public space for fast movement. LEARN MORE
Design Taxonomy, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg
Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg explores a future where cars evolve in shape and function in response to their environments, through natural selection by humans. This experimental project about the future of mobility included working with synthetic biologists at SynbiCITE, Imperial College London to explore alternative visions of sustainability for synthetic biology. Rather than subjecting biology to design, design is subjected to biological rules. In this provocation, car companies no longer produce entire vehicles, but distribute only a chassis block onto which disposable, locally produced bio-shells are added. Adaptation, mutation, and evolutionary patterns may start to emerge as a single design diversifies down thirteen generations and across five climate zones to produce over one hundred different designs. LEARN MORE
Banner image: Terreform ONE, Blimper Bus.