Design Student Floats Contest-Winning Mobility Idea

Yuchen Cai, 23, a graduate of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, created The Float as her vision of a car that will provide mobility while helping drivers be more open and social toward the outside world as autonomy becomes popular.

Paul Myles, European Editor

September 22, 2017

2 Min Read
Design student envisions mobility without wheels
Design student envisions mobility without wheels.

LONDON – A levitating orb that can swarm with other orbs as a lifestyle mobility solution wins Renault’s latest competition to find the car of the future.

The design competition arranged between Renault and students of MA Industrial Design at Central Saint Martin’s college in London was won by the orb that uses magnetic-levitation technology and is dubbed The Float.

Yuchen Cai was announced as the winning student at the Designjunction 2017 event’s opening evening. Cai, a 23-year-old graduate of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, created The Float as a vision of a car that will offer mobility along with an idea of how drivers can be more open and social toward the outside world as autonomy becomes popular.

Made with transparent glass on the exterior and with silver seats, it has a futuristic design aesthetic and the design is based around the car becoming more of a social space. It will be “non-directional” – able to move in any direction at any time without the need to turn around.

It also will allow pods for either one or two people, and numerous pods can be attached via a magnetic belt that encircles the exterior so more than two people can travel together. Swiveling bucket seats coupled with sliding doors like those found on the London Underground allow easy access.

A control on the seats enables the passenger to rotate their seat, activate a sound system to speak with passengers in pods connected to theirs and change the opacity of the glass for privacy or social interaction.

Cai’s winning idea also includes a smartphone app allowing users to rent The Float at the touch of a button. As with ride-hailing services, pods would be available to be rented for one journey or for numerous days.

The competition’s four judges included two of Renault’s senior designers: Anthony Lo, vice president-exterior design and François Leboine, chief exterior designer.

 “This is the second time we have run a design competition with Central Saint Martins and once again our eyes have been opened to the extraordinary talent and imagination of the students and to the ways in which humans could travel in the future,” Lo says.

“Renault is focused on creating autonomous, connected electric vehicles and it’s great to see that Central Saint Martins’ Industrial Design students really took this on board when creating their vision of the future.

Yuchen’s winning design was particularly interesting thanks to its use of (magnetic-levitation) technology and its tessellated design. It was a pleasure to have her at the 

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

European Editor, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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