An integral part of both the conference and of the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Design Challenge is unique in that it is prominent designers shaping the ongoing development of the competiton, this year's challenge to seek a Motor Sports vehicle for 2025.
Design Los Angeles' fifth design conference is nearly upon us. With an attendance of some 500 international designers gathered in a city and in turn a region famed not least for its trendsetting across the board but also for its playing host to the greatest concentration of manufacturer design studios in the world, this is a design conference of international importance.
An integral part of both the conference and of the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Design Challenge is unique in that it is prominent designers shaping the ongoing development of the competiton, identifying the issues of interest that should be dealt with in each year's task. In recent years, the challenge has covered briefs from the designing of a 'RoboCar for 2057' to that which takes the future of driving to an 'environmental experience'.
Design Challenge 2009 aims to seek a Motor Sports vehicle for 2025 and hosts entries from across the continents with participation from Audi, BMW, GM, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Volkswagen. For bitesize consumption, we've condensed the respective entries from the German makers into this article and those from Japanese and American into Part Deux.
Excelling in a scenario the team at the Volkswagen/Audi Design Center, California, expect at 2025's ALMS, the R25 is adapted to a track every bit as innovative as Audi's vehicular design itself. With high-velocity banks, tunnels and wireless electrical charging zones on banks and tunnel top sections, the aerodynamic cars can race 'inverted' and pass anywhere.
The Audi R25 is tailored to such an environment, featuring a Dynamic Space Frame for greater flexibility, rigidity and circuit integration. Race endurance is delivered via an algae bio-fuel drivetrain mated to an electric motor capable of on-track wireless energy transfer.
Audi also envisage a complete system of sensors streaming real-time data to the on-board computer and displayed, much like an HUD, on the driver's visor. But to bring the excitement on the track straight to fans, HD cameras mounted on the vehicle will feed real-time video to monitors - and Virtual Reality booths.
BMW Hydrogen Powered Salt Flat Racer
Debuting an idea every bit as contemporary today as it is likely to be come 2025, BMW Group DesignWorks USA introduce a vehicle created on the premise of Reuse. Made from reusing (rather than recycling) 'ordinary and mundane' materials such as oil barrells and barbeque lids for components such as wheel discs and body, the Salt Flat Racer is a near-definition of automotive sustainability.
But if that sounds cuckoo, BMW have thrown-in the vehicle's very own goldfish co-pilots, or 'canaries-in-a-coal mine', to ensure the Racer is running clean. (The thinking being if your goldfish die, you're probably not running clean.) A further concept idea is the running of gel-nylon wheels - enabling air-less, re-treadable and re-vulcanizable tires.
Mercedes-Benz Formula Zero
In a move wholly reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz of today, the firm's Advanced Design of North America team present Formula Zero, a culmination of characteristics to create a new brand of racing luxury. Incorporating the thrill of Formula One, the dynamics of bobsledding and the grace and efficiency of yacht racing, the Formula Zero is a true hybrid in all respects. Mercedes-Benz's Racer extracts maximum power from its electric motors, aerodynamic solar-panelled skin and high-tech rigid sail.
Each team's respective task forseen by Mercedes in their very own Formula Zero racing Series is to work with a pre-allocated energy allowance and manage the applicable variables wisely to finish the race. Victors are determined by both total elapsed time and efficiency achieved. And in addition to innovative race characteristics, Mercedes-Benz enivsage a transparent track allowing spectators to get a somewhat different view of the competitors, be it on high banks or even from below.
Volkswagen Bio Runner
Hoping to repeat the success of their design in last year's challenge, the Volkswagen/Audi Design Center California show the VW Bio Runner: a vehicle built around its driver and the competition's one-tank, 10-gallons of fuel stipulation. Controls attached to the hands and feet of the driver, suspended in the vehicle's protective cage body, control muscle-like suspension for optimised traction and control.
Safety is also of paramount importance with VW's design, support provided by an aerial assistance drone to feed video to the driver when visibility is low, and support by chopper should any danger be detected that the driver may be unaware of.
An innovative system necessitating the removal of all windows but allowing for no dips in visibility and a more lightweight design is that of a 360-degree panoramic interior screen, displaying real-time feeds of the external environment.