Summary

•May 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Technologies

Hydrogen combustion.

  • combustion engine.

  • fuel tank

  • transmission

click the image to enlarge

* Note: This is highly dependent on infrastructure, government intervention, automotive companies and fuel companies.


Drive by wire.

  • electronic steering

  • electronic breaking

  • electronic acceleration




Materials

Carbon fiber or “green” equivalent

  • manufactured in parts to create frame

  • offers protection for safety

  • light weight offers fuel economy



Function

  • tight turning circle

  • acceleration 0-100 in 8 sec

  • top speed 160

  • seat 2

  • every day drive


Form

lines derived from smoke.


Simplicity

  • Law 1. Reduce

  • Law 2. Abstraction

  • Law 3. Time

  • Law 4. Knowledge.

  • Law 5. Difference

  • Law 6. Context

  • Law 7. Trust.



Needs to incorporate

  • materials

  • function

  • technologies

  • usability

  • innovation


Configuration

– most possible.

rear wheel drive

mid engined

fuel tank at the front

2×2 config, side by side


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Design Strategy

•May 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment


to achieve a design strategy we should break up the strategy into two categories, those being the design goal and form development. The design goal should include the design processes and how to achieve the design goal. This is a very important step in moving a project forward as it determines the rules that govern the design. It gives direction. Form development is also an especially important process for car design as it forms the design. There are several ways to achieve the design goal and I am going to outline the steps that I will be taking to accomplish my goal, they will also help me achieve the definition of my goal. It is important to remember that these goal definitions are not set in stone, and may change partway through the design stages. With all this put together it will inform me of a framework with which to work, this in turn will help me develop the design I am striving for.


In terms of the form I will be using a technique used by many designers and artists to develop forms. I will be using a line template developed so that the forms themselves take on a refined look, one that will make the car look whole in terms of the lines that are used to create the form. The template will use the lines created by smoke, these lines are fluid and of course aerodynamic in themselves and will create the overall look of the car.



I will be using these smoke templates to develop a language that the form will be able to communicate. I have chosen simplicity as a theme for the car and I think smoke or the way smoke reacts to the world seems simple but of course is far from it. I have looked at simplicity and developed a set of rules that I will endeavor to follow to achieve this goal. They are as follows


Law 1. Reduce

The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. When in doubt, just remove. But be careful of what you remove. For example, The least amount of lines/surfaces used to make the form and still keep structural elements.


Law 2. abstraction

by retaining only the information needed, ie simple. This can be done by using flowing lines so that the form can retain the other laws but only those laws, to stay simple.


Law 3. Time

No one likes to suffer the frustration of waiting. Thus we often try to find ways to beat the ticking hand of time. We go out of our way to find the quickest option or any other means to reduce our frustration. When any interaction with products or service providers happens quickly, we attribute this efficiency to the perceived simplicity of experience.


Law 4. knowledge.

Knowledge makes everything simpler. At first form is difficult to understand but through these laws form becomes easier to understand.


Law 5. difference

acknowledging contrast helps to identify qualities that we desire.


Law 6. context

things are not always as the seem.

What looks simple (appearing in the periphery of simplicity) is definetly not simple because there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.

When applied to form, the mathematical equations to 3D model or produce the form would be quite complex. For example the context of physical form vs. computer generated form.


Law 7. trust.

in simplicity we trust”

trust wants transparency. Transparency wants simplicity. Simple facilitates a true feeling of trust.


These laws should combine to create the spirit of the form, however I predict that I will be doing a lot of “sculpting” in terms of my first designs will be anything but simple. This is because I have to fore fill all the parameters of the car, ie. Usability, functionality innovation, and sustainability, but I think the next part of the sculpting process will of course be subtraction of certain elements of the form, thats not to say that I will subtract functionality all together, rather I will adapt the form design to incorporate it in a more simple way. This will form the re-dsign process too.


The production process will be important for defining the final form, as if it cannot be manufactured then it is a lost cause. I will be using composite materials such as carbon fiber or a natural replacement. Future advancements in the manufacturing process will mean that sheets of this material will be able to be printed, and then press formed into panels, these panels will then be assembled into the final form of the car, this will resemble the final form. Paints would be used, perhaps a solar energy receptive paint that would be able to act as solar panels always storing energy into the battery so that you would not need to have an alternator. The structure scheme would therefore be an exoskeleton, with a skin.


I have done research into form to see how car designs are influenced by the times, like during the cold war and the development of the space race, cars would grow wings and face rockets, they would have dome windows and would mimic what people thought the future was going to look like. Of course often the predictions of the future are not all that accurate, and today we still do not have flying cars, we do not have a car that can fold into a briefcase like in the Jetsons. The bat-mobile was of course one of those cars that took on that whole rocket ship look, and today it seems a little far fetched even for the next 20-30 years.


When looking into the next 20-30 years you can say that many things will change and improve, to the extent that we could not possibly conceive those changes, however it is important to look at the infrastructure in place today and look at how quickly something physical can change. The Internet has changed so rapidly that it has left many people in its wake. The older generations of this world have found it difficult to keep up to date with technologies because they can be developed so rapidly and this is in part because of the nature of technology. It is such that it often does not take on a physical form, or it is only a small object of which could be designed and implemented very rapidly and the systems that these technologies grow, grow along side and improve to the same extent.


Cars however can not be developed at the same speeds in the commercial world. This is because of a variety of reasons including just to name a few, engineering. Legislation, manufacturing, societies physical limitations and the list goes on. It takes years to develop a car not to mention the huge amount of money, and it would not be possible to develop new cars every year. Cell phone companies on the other hand usually release new phones every year, they therefore have the technologies updated along with the infrastructure of cell phone communication. The leap from 2g to 3g phones is the equivalent of changing a whole fuel source for a car. The problem here lies with the infrastructure of the car, in terms of how to deliver the fuel source, roads to be developed and the huge limitations of legislation like safety.


the car will be designed with usability in mind. The car will have a personality, when looked at it should provoke a “WOW” factor. This will be mostly achieved by the form of the design. This therefore will be car that people want to use as a car that explains their personality to the world, it will be a fashion statement. Based on my people research, I found that the majority of people used their car for 1 or 2 passengers and only if they had children would they use the cars other seats. Usually a family has more than one car depending on a variety of circumstances. This means that say for a family of 4 only two cars are needed if you have two, two seater cars. This would allow the car to be smaller and would contribute to fuel efficiency through the reduction of weight. Smaller cars also have a shorter wheel base making it more maneuverable through a tighter turning circle thus improving driving through cities. Given that most of the population of the world live in or near cities. this would help. 3 or 4 wheels should be used as it would form a good base on which a frame could be built that would hold all the necessities. By large the usability will interact with the production process as of course when you are building the car you have to know how the car will work as to what to build. A different design would require a different frame, for example if I was to design a car with only one door, it is possible to manufacture the cockpit differently because access only needs to come from one part of the vehicle.


the car I will be designing will be a hydrogen combustion powered vehicle, that is to say that it uses some of the same technologies that we use in cars today, a combustion engine, fuel tanks, gearboxes, wheels, breaks and so on. All these factors must be brought together so that it functions as an automobile. This is the industrial design part. The car must of course be practical to a certain degree.


Here are some constraints that I will be working with.


Small to mid size

Combustion engine.

Hydrogen fuel tank.

Doors

4 seater, probably 2×2

Unique use of materials and manufacturing process

400km range


Alternate fuels include.


Electric.

Hydrogen combustion.

Hydrogen fuel cell.

Compressed air.

Solar-electric


the electric car is in the beginning stages of a dominant run, that is to say until something better comes along. Roads have been laid for the domination, these depend heavily on battery systems and efficiency, for without these technologies being developed further, the electric car has a short lived dominance. Batteries are not eco-friendly at this point, that is to say, chemicals and a lot of energy goes into making the batteries and they are not efficient enough to give the car a long mileage not to mention their expensive nature. Electric engines are efficient at the moment but further technologies such as regenerative breaking (creating electricity while breaking) will be refined to where there is little to no waste of that energy.


If Hydrogen is burned, it creates virtually no pollution.

  • Hydrogen does not exist naturally and so it must be extracted from other chemicals, such as the electrolysis of water. Such processes requires very large amounts of external energy to accomplish.

  • The vast majority of current Hydrogen production in the US is made by a catalytic conversion of methane gas, because it is easier and cheaper than electrolysis of water. However, those processes of using fossil fuels to create Hydrogen create around 9 pounds of carbon dioxide for each pound of Hydrogen produced

  • A scientific Law called the Conservation of Energy requires that the external source of energy MUST supply at least as much energy as the hydrogen could ever later release.

  • Hydrogen gas has very low density, where one pound takes up nearly 200 cubic feet of volume. So gaseous Hydrogen is not very practical as a fuel.

  • Compressing Hydrogen to 3,000 PSI is very difficult, very expensive to do, and requires a lot of external energy to accomplish.

  • The sum of these factors, and others, make Hydrogen a rather undesirable fuel for vehicles currently.



At the moment hydrogen combustion is not a viable option to the automotive market, but there are a few reasons that make it the more realistic option in the short term. It is not viable because of the huge amounts of energy that are required to extract pure hydrogen from the atmosphere. Currently we use non-sustainable energy to produce hydrogen, so therefore hydrogen is not sustainable, however it is only a matter of time before they figure out how to generate energy from nuclear fusion, not a nuclear reactor, rather the combination of two hydrogen atoms at extremely high speeds and density to create similar amounts of energy to the sun. this in turn will provide the energy required to get hydrogen. When hydrogen is burnt, they by product is water, clean enough to drink. The beauty is that current engines can be converted to run on hydrogen, liquid or gas. It uses the same processes as LPG. Every current car could be converted to run on hydrogen, meaning that there would be less energy used to recycle current cars and so on. In the current climate, it is not feasible, but the loss of the combustion engine will see many car enthusiasts looking for something else to fill the void. Electric cars do not convey the male dominance of its combustion companion. I think the reason I would prefer to have a hydrogen combustion dominated society is because I like a lot of the old cars, and with a simple conversion kit similar to an Liquid Petroleum Gas conversion these old cars would not become obsolete, leaving space in the future for these cars to become green. Also if petrol is no longer sold many hundreds of millions of cars will have to be recycled again costing a huge amount of energy to achieve this goal.


Hydrogen fuel cells run into much the same problem, although they generate electricity rather than just being burnt and there are also no nasty by products of the running circuit, it takes more chemicals to create the chemical reaction process in the fuel cell, meaning a lot of energy to start with again. It comes back to the same problem of where do you get the initial energy from.


Compressed air is an interesting fuel, as there are obviously no pollutants. The problem here is that the amount of compressed air needed to move a car is a lot, so much so that it becomes problematic. It does not take a lot of energy to compress the air, but it takes a lot of compressed air to move a car. With advancements in weight reduction and the engineering of better compressed air engines, this might become a feasible alternative for city drivers, but not for long distant haulers, the such that live in Australia for example.


Solar electric share some of its problems with all of the above. It would not have a limited range during the day, because it would gather all its energy then, but at night it would need to store that energy and adding batteries would add to weight therefore decreasing the efficiency of the car. Solar panels have a long way to go as I think currently they are only something like 5% efficient, meaning they could become very good at getting that solar energy, further if every car had solar panels on them, while they were parked they would be producing electricity, which could be fed back into the grid, effectively creating a huge solar station in every city.


The future will involve to some degree all of these technologies. It is inevitable. It took some time before the combustion engine defeated the steam engine and so the same will be true here. It may not be that any one of these will become the sole trader, rather it is likely that all will contribute to some degree, such as solar panels on a hydrogen fuel-cell car, and hydrogen combustion with an electric hybrid, but you get the idea. Only the future knows where we will be taking these technologies and how they will develop. What I predict happening in the future is for governments to capitalize on the ability to legislate the use and development of one fuel in particular. It is in their interest to do this as it will generate money much the same way that they tax petrol and diesel they will be able to tax whatever fuel will be used. If electricity becomes the chief fuel they will not be able to differentiate the use of it in your car or for your house and therefore they will not be able to charge this tax. This will make it very likely that they will create legislation to use one fuel more than others and it will not be electricity. To further add to the probability of hydrogen becoming the most widely used fuel source, governments will also be able to invest into the manufacture of hydrogen, so they would make money in both the manufacture and tax of the fuel. Whoever so chooses to try and get the governments of the world to commit along side some fuel manufactures and car manufactures will make a lot of money. The next twenty years are ripe for the picking in terms of all these areas.


I predict they will use hydrogen combustion because of its ability to be taxed and its integration with todays current infrastructure. The future unfortunately will not change as rapidly as we would like to predict. Hydrogen combustion will also be able to be integrated into current cars, for example a kit would be able to be bought that would be added so that the engine would accept hydrogen much the same way that todays LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) conversions work. All this leads me to predict that cars in the future will not change as much as we would like them to, however they will become “green”, safer, faster, and better looking ( to a certain extent) but the limitations are there to restrict the development, or rather guide the development of the car of the future.


My car design will be innovative because of the use of a different fuel type, though it would be a conventional type combustion engine, and would need all the conveniences of todays cars, it would be able to be innovative through the production process and materials that are used. I think there has not been enough exploration into these areas in the automotive industry and there is room for innovation. There has been progress in the use of the materials and the manufacturing processes but not the link between design and these processes.


I think looking at the future most people would see that electric vehicles are the only way to go and where I think there is significance is where I explained that hydrogen combustion will become more used because of government intervention and legislation. Its not a leap forward in terms of changing the way cars are propelled but it is a different way of thinking about how the future is going to develop.


There is no way that in the next 20-30 years any type of public transport will be able to provide every one living in a city all their day to day needs, the car is not going anywhere, it will change significantly but it will not become any less important as a mode of transportation.


What will be truly innovative is that this car will be designed for a market that has not yet been realized. Several things need to happen before there is even a market for hydrogen combustion engines. Government legislation, the development of clean energy to create pure hydrogen, fuel companies to create the energy and finally car companies to develop the cars to use. Infrastructure should also change as a result of these changes.



Future Car Technologies Discussed

•April 22, 2009 • 1 Comment

One would argue if you had half the car, you would need half the power, half the fuel and therefore half the money to pay for the fuel. Cars can be more efficient if the engine has to move less weight. Combustion engines are inefficient to begin with but only 10 % of the fuel burned is used to move the occupants of the car. Some of the ways of improving this problem is tackling the issues of aerodynamics, rolling resistance, more fuel efficient engines and weight reduction. In theory one could triple the efficiency of a car by reducing the weight alone while not increasing the cost by much. This could be done by using specialized materials that would do a better job than steel at half the weight. There are a few steps that need to be taken before this can be achieved though and they include the materials and manufacturing processes.



Materials


New materials are created everyday by analyzing the structure, properties and behaviors of natural and human-made materials. These materials could offer exciting new properties and offer huge advantages of weight, strength, corrosion resistance, sound damping and manufacturing processes.


These materials can incorporate

  • foams

  • foils

  • metals

  • woods

  • fibers

  • adhesives

  • mineral nano-particles.

The composite materials are made when blending two or more of these materials, hence the creation of a new material. These materials could have qualities such as:

  • fire resistance

  • biodegradability

  • super strength

  • flexibility

  • lightness

  • corrosion resistance

  • sound damping.

here are some links to some other composite materials that i have found. they are biobased so they are “green”

All natural composite sandwich beams for structural applications

composite fibres – natural and synthetic blends


Over the past couple of decades the automotive industry has been slow in recognizing the huge potential of these new materials. This is largely due to the huge costs of creating new manufacturing processes. Some car manufacturers have indeed incorporated other manufacturing processes and have managed to bring these different materials into the car. One such example is when in 2005, Chrysler Daimler began experimenting with some composite materials made from coconuts, sisal, jute and other plants. The interior of the car is where most of these biological composites are found, in the seat cushions, seat backs, and interior door panels. When these biological composites are used, the manufacturing processes are far more environmentally friendly than that of conventional materials.


Ceramics are another type of material that has broken out into production cars, albeit expensive cars. Ceramic breaks were first used on the Porsche GT and this enabled it to out perform any car during the Les Mans races because of its high tolerance to intense heat, ideal under heavy breaking regularly.


Carbon fiber seems to be the wonder material. Everything should be made of carbon fiber. It is generally used in aerospace, civil engineering, military, and motor sports. This is because of its amazing properties. The material is made of very thin strands of which carbon atoms are bonded to. They form a special crystal alignment that makes the fibers really strong. Thousands of carbon fibers can be woven together to form fabrics. There are many weave patterns and can be combined with a plastic resin. This forms the composite material. When they are combined they can be extremely strong with a hight strength to weight ratio, high tensile strength and low thermal expansion. Carbon fiber can be further strengthened by the use of heat treatment, certain heats will give the carbon fiber different properties such as more elasticity or better heat resistance. Fiber glass is a very similar material, but it uses strands of glass fibers instead of carbon. It is not as strong though and cannot withstand the same heat treatment.

user centered technology

drivers have less and less responsibilities as computers take a firm hold of the automobile. In the future it is conceivable that victims will sue the companies that made the electronics systems because they failed to break the car, even though it was clearly driver error that caused the accident. Until all cars on the road are computer driven, it is nearly impossible to have computer-driven cars. There are just too many variables to contend with, such an amount that you cannot compete with the human brain. There are computers that aid drivers such as breaking when the driver is too close to the car in front by automatically applying the breaks so that a collision is stopped but what if you were stuck at a train intersection and needed to get closer to the car so the train would not hit you?

today keys are used to gain entry to cars, but in the future key card systems, code entry and RFID keys could become common place. Current keys use remotes to unlock the car but then the key is still needed to start the car. Biometrics and computers could be combined to form a fingerprint identification system that would allow you to gain access and start the car. Its an interesting thought as today RFID keys are becoming more common on expensive model cars. It works the same way as keyless entry only you don’t have to push a button, the car just registers that you are close to it and so it unlocks the car. You can then start it freely by pushing a button.

in the future passenger safety will be regarded as one of the top concerns if it isn’t already. Airbags will be standard, curtain airbags that have been extremely effective in saving lives will be used and will continue to improve. They do have their flaws though, in multiple collision crashes, the airbags can only protect you in the first instance of the crash, they then become useless if another impact occurs. Future systems should take this into consideration and will deploy multiple airbags or reusable airbags that can be inflated several times.


The use of composite materials in future cars will help with the safety issue too. It should be noted that formula 1 cars are mostly carbon fiber and composite materials. When these cars crash at 200km into a wall the driver usually escapes with their life. Advancements in this field are extremely important. One of the reasons will be the low weight of the vehicles. Its just common physics, the heavier the object moving, the more difficult it is to stop it. So if you crashed a normal 80’s model car into a whole carbon fiber made car, the carbon fiber made car would come out smiling, compared to the metal 80’s model car. Lighter stronger cars will be a staple safety measure in the future. Vehicle design is also an important safety measure, high front bumpers can cause problems with lifting the car into the passenger compartment putting the occupants at severe risk. Accidents like this happen with trucks and SUV’s, the risks could all be reduced by having stronger lighter cars.


Eyes of humans do not always pick up the conditions of the road, so sensors could be used to prevent accidents. They could monitor the road for hazardous conditions and the information would then be communicated to the driver, while the car took steps to improve the situation. Road monitoring networks could also benefit from this as the information could be relayed to them in real time and could inform other drivers of the road conditions. Sensors would monitor the positioning of the car on the road and if the vehicle wanders from the traffic or lane the diver would be told. Some cars already incorporate this technology.


manufacturing processes


the major problem with composite materials is the manufacturing processes. While these are always improving it is difficult to incorporate these processes into current large scale car manufacturing. Car manufactures have spent 100 years perfecting how to manufacture cars from steel. This process requires a huge infrastructure of tooling and factories that all perform a specific task to complete the cars. They are so well tuned that a factory can turn out 100s of cars a day. The manufactures would need vast amounts of money to create new factories from scratch and this would be a huge investment that none of the big manufactures would risk.


Carbon fiber is expensive and molding it into parts is labor intensive. The idea then is to create a way to mass produce carbon fiber on the same scale that steel parts can be made and at the same cost. The great thing about carbon fiber is that it is so light that heavy machinery is not needed to lift any of the panels, and therefore health and safety problems would not exist. Robots and mechanical help would not be required to put the cars together.


One of the ways that carbon fiber could be produced on a large scale is by printing it. A machine would lay strips of carbon fiber material much like an ink-jet printer, in alternate patterns, while also laying down thin layers of plastic resin, thus combining the two. The sheet of carbon fiber composite can then be put into a heated press that would cure the resin creating a material that is really strong and light, while shaping it into the shape needed for the body/chassis. The panels are then glued and again heat treated in an oven. The process is not dissimilar to steel cars. They too use a press to shape their panels, they too connect different panels together by welding. The difference here is that the material is light and strong meaning the manufacturing equipment does not need to be so heavy and hardcore. Every carbon fiber panel could lifted with one hand!


Future car designs will need new influences and themes to be explored in a effort to draw the attention of their prospective buyers. The will become increasingly daring and cheeky, relinquishing some of the aesthetic aspects in an effort to design something different in a market where so much has been done. All designs will not be outrageous, rather just a few. Laws will play a large influence on car design, things such as pedestrian safety will require the front end of cars to be more friendly to a frontal collision of the human body. Some of these laws have already been introduced on some models.


Alternate fuels and prepulsion


Alternative fuels will be a large aspect of the ever changing car. Eco friendly engineering being the mainstay here. There are several different fuels that could be used, that don’t constitute fossil fuels. I wont go into great detail here because I feel it is more of an engineering project rather than a design aspect, but one needs to know how the propulsion units will fit on the car. You need to understand how the car will work in order to design something coherent.


Alternate fuels include.


Electric.


Hydrogen combustion.


Hydrogen fuel cell.


Compressed air.


Solar-electric



the electric car is in the beginning stages of a dominant run, that is to say until something better comes along. Roads have been laid for the domination, these depend heavily on battery systems and efficiency, for without these technologies being developed further, the electric car has a short lived dominance. Batteries are not eco-friendly at this point, that is to say, chemicals and a lot of energy goes into making the batteries and they are not efficient enough to give the car a long mileage. Electric engines are efficient at the moment but further technologies such as regenerative breaking (creating electricity while breaking) will be refined to where there is little to no waste of that energy.


If Hydrogen is burned, it creates virtually no pollution.

  • Hydrogen does not exist naturally and so it must be extracted from other chemicals, such as the electrolysis of water. Such processes requires very large amounts of external energy to accomplish.

  • The vast majority of current Hydrogen production in the US is made by a catalytic conversion of methane gas, because it is easier and cheaper than electrolysis of water. However, those processes of using fossil fuels to create Hydrogen create around 9 pounds of carbon dioxide for each pound of Hydrogen produced

  • A scientific Law called the Conservation of Energy requires that the external source of energy MUST supply at least as much energy as the hydrogen could ever later release.

  • Hydrogen gas has very low density, where one pound takes up nearly 200 cubic feet of volume. So gaseous Hydrogen is not very practical as a fuel.

  • Compressing Hydrogen to 3,000 PSI is very difficult, very expensive to do, and requires a lot of external energy to accomplish.

  • The sum of these factors, and others, make Hydrogen a rather undesirable fuel for vehicles currently.



Hydrogen combustion in my eyes will become the eventual winner of the alternative fuel wars. At the moment it is not a viable option to the automotive market, but there are a few reasons that make it the more realistic option. It is not viable because of the huge amounts of energy that are required to extract pure hydrogen from the atmosphere. Currently we use non-sustainable energy to produce hydrogen, so therefore hydrogen is not sustainable, however it is only a matter of time before they figure out how to generate energy from nuclear fusion, not a nuclear reactor, rather the combination of two hydrogen atoms at extremely high speeds and density to create similar amounts of energy to the sun. this in turn will provide the energy required to get hydrogen. When hydrogen is burnt, they by product is water, clean enough to drink. The beauty is that current engines can be converted to run on hydrogen, liquid or gas. It uses the same processes as LPG. Every current car could be converted to run on hydrogen, meaning that there would be less energy used to recycle current cars and so on. In the current climate, it is not feasible, but the loss of the combustion engine will see many car enthusiasts looking for something else to fill the void. Electric cars do not convey the male dominance of its combustion companion.


Hydrogen fuel cells run into much the same problem, although they generate electricity rather than just being burnt and there are also no nasty by products of the running circuit, it takes more chemicals to create the chemical reaction process in the fuel cell, meaning a lot of energy to start with again. It comes back to the same problem of where do you get the initial energy from.


Compressed air is an interesting fuel, as there are obviously no pollutants. The problem here is that the amount of compressed air needed to move a car is a lot, so much so that it becomes problematic. It does not take a lot of energy to compress the air, but it takes a lot of compressed air to move a car. With advancements in weight reduction and the engineering of better compressed air engines, this might become a feasible alternative for city drivers, but not for long distant haulers, the such that live in Australia for example.


Solar electric share some of its problems with all of the above. It would not have a limited range during the day, because it would gather all its energy then, but at night it would need to store that energy and adding batteries would add to weight therefore decreasing the efficiency of the car. Solar panels have a long way to go as I think currently they are only something like 5% efficient, meaning they could become very good at getting that solar energy, further if every car had solar panels on them, while they were parked they would be producing electricity, which could be fed back into the grid, effectively creating a huge solar station in every city.


The future will involve to some degree all of these technologies. It is inevitable. It took some time before the combustion engine defeated the steam engine and so the same will be true here. It may not be that any one of these will become the sole trader, rather it is likely that all will contribute to some degree, such as solar panels on a hydrogen fuel-cell car, and hydrogen combustion with an electric hybrid, but you get the idea. Only the future knows where we will be taking these technologies and how they will develop.



WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!

•April 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I dont know, looks exactly the same as the prius.
Just a thought.
Draw your own conclusions.
Copyright infringment?

Proposal 2

•April 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Proposal

second draft

Cars in general are a hot topic in todays current global conversation. Cars companies seem to be the target of both economic and climate debates. It would be fair to say then that a shift in car design and engineering will need to take place, a re-engineering of the future automobile. Within these to contexts it is important to remember that cars have a spirit, they invoke emotion and feeling, it is what makes us drive what we drive, how we interact with the car and how we generally feel the car. What this means is that the car equation needs to be re-designed along side the re-engineering of the automobile.

Styling will be the major aspect of this re-design as this is the first instance of what we perceive to be a car. They are seen by many people as we drive through the public. It may be an extension of our personality or a projection of how we fit into society. Cars are who we are not what propels us from A to B, that is the automobiles job, “cars are art” – Chris Bangle. That does not mean that problems with regards to the engineering aspects will be overlooked, rather it means that the emphasis in this project will be the fine art like nature of styling. To a huge extent the engineering in terms of materials and manufacturing processes may determine how the car can be styled.

In terms of styling, a large part of what constitutes styling will be form design. It is the engineering that generally determines how the form will be designed, so one has to look at this process and how it can be played and experimented with. It will be a fundamental part of the styling conception and therefore will require a huge amount of immersion.

To give an idea of where I think a lot of my research will be delving into I’ve set out some directions in where I will begin.

In todays society we are looking at sustainability with a new vigor, but many people misinterpret the meaning of sustainability or are targeted by the products that are shown as green but that are really not, that use environmental marketing to achieve success. An example of this is the car of the year in the U.S.A last year. A large SUV with a 6 L V8. However this car was passed as a hybrid and won car of the year. It is a contradiction in itself, and society more often than not buys into these fake green concepts. Sustainable transport is a large area that needs a perspective shift. With todays cities thinking about expelling all cars in city centers in favor of public transport, the automobile industry have passed on the opportunities to capitalize on these changes. We know that the world is more consumer orientated than ever before, so why cant we use this method for altering peoples perceptions of sustainable design and living through making a product that addresses these real issues in a truly green way.

The world is trying to be green. This is not an easy thing to do, the way the world ticks is not sustainable. We use non-renewable resources for just about everything we do, all products use oil in one stage of its life, if not more. A funny example is the Safeway green bag, the idea being that you buy a green bag so that you don’t use plastic bags that are thrown away. At first this sounds like a brilliant idea, but underneath it is full of flaws, the green bags are made in china out of PVC which take much longer to degrade than the current plastic bags of which 40 % are biodegradable anyway. This is just some of the health problems associated with manufacturing PVC, According to the EPA, “vinyl chloride emissions from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), ethylene dichloride (EDC), and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plants cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to result in an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness. Vinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen which causes a rare cancer of the liver.”[1]EPA’s 2001 updated Toxicological Profile and Summary Health Assessment for VCM in its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database lowers EPA’s previous risk factor estimate by a factor of 20 and concludes that “because of the consistent evidence for liver cancer in all the studies…and the weaker association for other sites, it is concluded that the liver is the most sensitive site, and protection against liver cancer will protect against possible cancer induction in other tissues.”[2] And so it continues, after manufacture, the bags must be shipped to Australia, then they must be trucked to every Safeway in the country at which point you pay money for them, and reuse them twice, forget the bag at home so you buy another one just to carry your shopping and end up with countless green bags that you could never use. Why cant you use a backpack that you already own? People never actually look into products, or are not shown the correct facts about the products. Its a bit sadistic but I find it funny that Australians think that by buying green bags that they are helping the environment when In actual fact they could be making it worse. My point is that companies try to promote themselves as supporters of sustainable “green” living when in actual fact they are not producing sustainable products, rather they are preying on the current gloomy outlook of the world and the perception of the consumer.

Why cant people design products that use real facts to sell them as truly green. It may be a difficult task but surely it can be done. The Toyota Prius for example uses a Hybrid Synergy Drive system that claims to increase fuel efficiency. There was a particular focus on making the car look particularly ugly so that it would stand out from the crowd. This has worked really well as most people know what the Prius looks like. People want to buy the car to feel less guilty about the environment. Its also used as a status symbol. In actual fact the prius uses 4.4 L/100km of petrol. The Volkswagen polo TDI uses 5 L/100km of diesel. However the polo costs $ 22,000 and the Prius costs $ 37,000.[3] so why is it then that people buy the Prius?

An example of something that is truly a green product in transportation is an electric vehicle that is light, hence it uses less energy and is recharged using solar energy, is made of renewable resources and is made in the area in which It is sold, so there are no transport cost and oil usage. Some parts may need to be shipped such as the engine/drive, but most everything else should be produced within the same area. We should be looking for a view on transportation that is markedly better than the one we have now with regards to sustainability. So instead of using sustainability as a selling point why not uses ergonomics, aesthetics and mechanical design to achieve the success of the Prius’s without the connotations.

References

PBS – Car of the Future

•April 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

methods document 1st draft

•April 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Methods.

The methods that I will use to create this project will contain four basic aspects that can be further branched out into smaller groups. These methods include research, visualization, software, readings. In my proposal I had talked about researching technology and people to form contexts for my project but I will also be delving further into areas surrounding research. Visualization will be about communicating my project to others and reading will help inform me of certain areas of research. I will be using a suite of software to help with the other three areas. Constraints are arguably one of the most important factors in design. The design process and methodologies are largely the same in most cases, however what makes each design different are the constraints and the contexts in witch these methods and practices must work. If the correct methods and practices are used in the correct context, the outcome will be an informed design. This can be said, is the goal of knowing the contexts and using the correct methods and practices. My project will be framed by sustainability, transportation, design psychology and mechanical design and as such will need the following design research methodologies.

  1. qualitative

  2. empirical

  3. quantitative

  4. ethnography

The effect of design methods is to understand key perceptions or facts resulting in resolved solutions to attain a finer experience for users with products, services, and environments. An investigation of a situation through design methodologies will create the understanding needed to provide resolved design solutions. To better the chances of a good design research it is important to look at multiple methodological perspectives. One must remember that a combination of methodologies can and will be used. This will aid in the “deep investigation” of the contexts but could convolute results of the research. For example it is entirely possible to use only quantitative approaches such as combining a survey and experimentation or to use only qualitative approaches such as combining an ethnographic and phenomenological inquiry. Mixing or integrating research strategies (qualitative and/or quantitative) in any and all research undertaking should be considered a common feature of all good research.

To better the chances of a good research it is important to look at multiple methodological perspectives. One must remember that by combining the methods of research you will enhance the results of said research. This means for example if I was to do a user study and only performed a participant observation task I might only get from it a small amount, but If I was to do a video task analysis, I might gain a better understanding by comparing and dissecting the results of both tasks.

I will spend a large amount of time looking at people and their perspectives. This will be done a large amount through user studies and co-design. User studies will involve a Blog and surveys completed online. This will give me a wider audience to study as the Internet reaches internationally not just locally, it will better inform me of cultural differences. Co-design will be completed during class sessions where there are other designers designing transportation. Their perspectives will be invaluable as their independent research will inform them of other views, ones that I have not yet discovered. Through this I hope to gain more understanding of the cultural aspect of my project.

Psychology is another context that needs to be addressed. Survey research could be used in both qualitative and quantitative methodologies and as such, it should be noted as good design research. It will be useful in the evaluation process ( which may be done several times through a project ) to develop the design, for example, a survey could be done at an exhibition to understand what people are thinking about the design. In turn your understanding of the design can be improved, and through that a redesign may take shape. On the other hand it may be useful just to conduct only theoretical research through books and other mediums in the beginning, and to go through a design testing phase in which surveys and opinions will be useful. The relationship between the time that the methodologies are used can be important. If there were no separation between the two in this context, your understanding of the psychology of the people answering the survey and your qualitative research can become convoluted and distorted. The information will be impossible at best to integrate let alone understand.

Within technology there are two sub categories, namely manufacturing processes and materials. I will be looking at different methods of manufacturing, both the potential and the possibilities. In this department I think I will start with readings based on the current manufacturing processes of cars today, then looking at what could be done in the future. I have already touched base with the issue through a movie called Car of the Future from PBS NOVA. The second part will involve the materials and this will be explored through experimentation and readings too. It will be important to link both the manufacturing processes and the materials as the two go hand in hand.

From the beginning of research phase the mechanical design context should be confronted with a theoretical observational approach. These two methods fall under the qualitative methodology and thus will ensure solid design principles for the conceptual design. The observational approach could involve video taping interaction with existing ideas and designs and later evaluating their experiences. Evaluation of these designs will need to be undertaken and this could involve a focus group falling under what is known as a micro technique. This can also be done at an exhibition and would provide invaluable information to the designer. It is similar to doing a survey but will have less people and will be more of an intensive picking of the brain. Transportation will also be a context that blends with mechanical design, as a form of transportation will be mechanical. The other main methodology to be used in this context is perhaps the most important. It is the method of empiricism, which is an attempt to answer questions by direct observations or personal experience. This method is a product of the empirical viewpoint of philosophy, which holds that all knowledge is acquired through our senses. This can be experimentation and prototyping which will be an important learning objective and research method with regards to mechanical design and transportation.

Marketing will be a strong research point as my project requires an emphasis on selling a beautiful piece of functional art rather than a green automobile. Clear areas here to look at are product placement, branding and economics. The car needs to have a clear setting, function and communicating these is the job of the product placement section. This can be done by creating story boards or promotional videos. This area will be closely linked with my user studies section. Branding will be able to give the car an identity, something that can put to good use the aesthetics of the design. Again this will be collaborated with the user studies section. Economics will be more associated with the materials and technology section, though input from user studies will be useful in deciding the final outcome of economics.

To aid my research it will be important to use software as a form of communication. Blogs such as word press can be invaluable tools to critique ideas, writings, points of view and so on. As said before it can reach further than class, it can give a total view from other people across the world. Blackboard provides a base for learning throughout the year where students in the same field will be able to communicate with each other as well as with lecturers about any topic. Video sites such as youtube and TED will be able to give insight in a different manner but will also provide a platform for reaching out to others too.

Readings will be an important part of the research phase. It will give insights into all of the above research topics as well as some others such as material culture, style and trends, social theory, art and the environment. These readings will also help develop my thesis.

Visualizing will be the process of communicating my design to others. It will involve Computer Assisted Design, drawing, doing-making and mind maps. This will be the development stage of design where the communication will take form. It will start with sketching and rendering witch is a fast form of design work. Sketching will form the base communication of the art/aesthetics of the car design. It will be where the car can transform from its contexts and be brought forward of the stage. It will be able to exhume beauty with the various contexts subliminally communicated. It will be used to produce many different ideas that can be changed rapidly and “on the fly”. The sketches will be developed until finally the design becomes sound and rigid. From there it will be put into CAD and will be developed further to the stage at which a rendering will be completed. Rapid prototyping may also occur here. My main program of use will be Sollidworks.

Following the process of CAD I will be trying to produce the car through building the chassis putting together the power train and all the other bits that go with the car. This will take up a large portion of time and budget but will produce something tangible and drivable to gauge response better. 3D models can only go so far but by building the actual car I hope to achieve a better understanding of the cultural reaction. The building process will be heavily influenced by the manufacturing processes and materials research to be completed.