An investigation into the possibilites of personalised transportation . The project is based around the concept of translating the interior space, and exterior detailing of a vehicle, into a living space or product.

Multiple Format Vehicle (MFV)

The multiple format vehicle is an attempt to take these new ideas of customisation and configuration, and show how this might be possible. The project is not an attempt to redefine the concept of transportation, or the motor car. The concept of customisation and configuration in this vehicle is different to traditional methods of fitting aftermarket accessories. These changes are not just for the car enthusiast, they are for every vehicle owner. They are fundamental modifications to how you might use the space.

The three part brief called for the design of a product for a global manufacturer ( Sony®, Oakley® or IKEA® ) which would incorporate the electric motors of Wellington Drive Technologies®, and promote New Zealand creative resources and social thinking .

Disclaimer: no implied association with the aforementioned brands, the fictional clients were set by VUW SOAD for the purposes of the course. Content of this page is from my original project presentation. IKEA® is a registered trademark of Inter IKEA Systems B.V.

Winner! DINZ ‘BEST’ Awards 2005 – Student Product Designer

The Designers Institute of New Zealand
BeST Awards

Title: Multiple Format Vehicle
School: Victoria University School of Design
Student:  Rory Bladen
Tutor: Tim Miller, Mark Pennington

Just as people shop for furniture to personalise a living room, they could also shop for furnishings for their vehicle. Just as people purchase changeable accessories for a cell phone, they could buy new easy to fit panels for their car.

the concept : 01

The concept is based around the idea of combining the basic ideals and philosophy of ikea, with the transportation wants and needs of their 300 million customers. The basic level of the concept is the idea of the vehicle being interpreted as a space, an empty room. This space is then furnished in varying configurations according to the requirements of the customer. The idea is that the prospective buyer would select a base I body 'space' and then procede around the ikea showroom selecting from different vehicle furnishings and accessories, just as they might if decorating or configuring their living room at home. By adopting this method of arranging the vehicle it is possible to configure it for specific tasks, and eliminate unneccesary items. For example if the vehicle is primarily used by one person, there is no need to provide seating for four, the customer may choose to purchase only one chair. This approach helps to reduce the environmental impacts of wasted resources, both the literal unused material, but also energy, through excess weight being carried around every day, and in turn leads to reduced costs, both at the checkout, and in long term running costs. The possibilities for the concept are further realised, where essentially each member of a family might have their own vehicle chair, much the same as a dining table setting. The family could own two ikea vehicles, one say used by one parent and two children, the second by the other to commute to work. During the week the family benefits from having two specific vehicles for each use, however at the weekend, when the family wishes to travel together, the single chair could be moved to the other vehicle, so providing seating for four people in the one space. the same space could be configured to suit other uses, with items of furniture designed for use in the vehicle and domestic environment. A shopping trolley which can be used around the supermarket, in the vehicle, and in the kitchen. A builders toolbox which can be used in the vehicle and around the work site. In this way the single space, just like an empty room ...

the concept : 02

.. can be used by different people with different needs. this is a completely different approach to the reconfiguration of a vehicle. this concept is not about folding down seats to increase the boot size or moving seats forward to make room for larger loads. this is a completely different spacefor each part of the flexibility of the vehicle, and an advantage of the use of electric drive and control. the driving position can be altered between the left, centre or right of the space. this allows for loads of varying sizes and shapes to be accomodated, or, for the driver and passenger to sit side by side, should there be only two occupants.a further extension of this flexibility is the idea that one vehicle could be remotely controlled from another. this concept came about from the initial idea of moving all the furniture of one vehicle into another, and using this vehicle to tow the empty one, so creating a trailer or caravan. the connection needed to be a permanent fixture on both vehicles. the control of the vehicle is fully electronic, utilising a computer controlled servo motor for steering, and individual wheel motors for power and braking. it is therefore possibly feasible that a trailer vehicle could be programmed to follow exactly the same speed and direction parameters as the towing vehicle, at a prescribed distance behind. the connection between the vehicles would be via an umbilical cable from rear to front. this cable would not be under any physical tension at any point, it would be set to hang limp at a distance similar to that which a car and trailer would be attached. the cable would carry the information to the trailer vehicles computer. the trailer vehicle would also act as a large spare battery and generator, this energy would be fed back to the towing vehicle via the cable. several vehicles could be chained in a train in order to move multiple vehicles at once, increasing the potential for collecting rental vehicles or dial a driver type applications. the connection points at the front of the vehicle could also be used to charge the vehicles at special stations and even parking meters, allowing the energy costs to be electronically charged to the drivers account.

product view : front

the vehicle incorporates an electronic active steering system. the system is driven by an electric motorised steering box utilising variable 'step' technology. information is passed to the remote control interface unit and returned. this electronic control system allows for the interface unit to be moved around the vehicle providing further configuration options. the main chassis of the vehicle is moulded inside a composite 'tub' body. this one piece body part contains all the structure, mechanics and electronics of the vehicle. the body allows for 'customisation' options to be added, such as the clip-on side colour strip, and additional colour and pattern mudguards. these accessories can be fitted without tools. the accessories may be offered by other companies such as fashion houses, colour specialists and product designers, or swapped and sold online through sites such as ebay®.

product view : rear

the rear of the vehicle incorporates a horizontal split rear access to provide a ramp system for loading of standard accessory items into the space. the lower door has an integral track which will connect to the floor track system inside the vehicle, allowing for automated loading and placement of the items. a connection point for the vehicle to vehicle 'umbilical' is located in the centre of the lower rear door. this point provides service for the information transfer from one vehicle to another in a chain connection. the system is designed to facilitate the connection of two or more vehicles in series. a data cable would pass information from the 'towing' vehicle to the 'trailer' vehicle. this information would tell the 'trailer' exactly what the front vehicle is doing, allowing the trailer to be automatically 'remotely controlled'. the data cable has no physical tension as the trailer will follow at a prescribed distance.

product view : side

the wheels of the vehicle contain an integral 'hubless' electric motor. the tire contains an integral rim which acts as the magnetic rotor, while the wheel part is the computer controlled electro-magnetic stator. in the image above, only the black 'tire' part moves, the wheel is stationary. all four wheels are motors, allowing for better control and handling. each wheel motor is controlled dynamically by the onboard computer which acts as a virtual differential. different wheel options could be offered to change not only the look but also the performance of the vehicle by adding higher power internal electric motors. literally performance wheels. the chairs inside the vehicle attach to the floor on a track system in the body component. this track allows the furniture to slide forwards and backwards and rotate. various types of chairs would be offered to accomodate for different physical needs and personal tastes. the system allows for the automatic movement of the furniture to pre-programmed custom or default settings or positions, using the electromagnetic track system. the chairs pictured can also be folded down and the back surface used as a table. two or more chairs can be folded and nestled alternately beside each other to create a bench.

product view : top

the side doors of the vehicle incorporate the part of the roof separated by the rollbar door frames. this entire section of the 'canopy' opens toward the rear to allow easy access to the centre of the vehicle for the driver or passenger. because of the sliding doors, there is no obstruction with entry. the vehicle can be access from any direction and entered at any angle. it also aides entering the vehicle where opening a door fully may be difficult such as car parking buildings, and safe entry for roadside parking. the chairs are configured in a diamond pattern, to allow for maximum leg room in such a small car. to optimise the use of space, and allow for various configurations of the vehicle it was important to minimise the obstruction of the wheels. side by side seating in a vehicle of this size would typically allow for only two passengers. this vehicle will also accomodate three passengers with luggage space.

The chassis utilises common front and rear assemblies for the steering and suspension system. this reduces the total parts of the vehicle, saving costs and time in manufacture and servicing. the rear steering assembly is locked in place.

the basic model

because the vehicle is to be configured and customised to whatever level the owner desires, it is important that the basic starting point, the chassis / floorpan, and the essential 'body' elements for the control and safe operation of the vehicle, are completely minimised in terms of operation and appearance. the basic vehicle needed to be almost entirely functional. whereas today, the base model in a range of modern vehicles suggests the car will have cheaper cloth seats, nylon carpet an overwhelmingly plasticy dashboard, and a cheap AM radio, this will have none. all non essential items, unless they are designed in order to support the addition of 'extra' equipment are left out of the 'base model'. as a default the vehicle would not operate unless at least one seat and control unit had been installed, and safety equipment such as fenders fixed to the outside.

the image left shows the vehicle presented as a kitset model with 1 :24 scale parts.