Electric Coachbuilding by Seymourpowell uses virtual reality to create personalized designs and experiences

Seymourpowell wants to breathe a little more soul into autonomous electric vehicles by addressing how they are made. The London-based design and innovation studio’s Lean concept proposes using advances in electric vehicle manufacturing to create highly individual designs and exciting in-car experiences.

As part of the “Future of Mobility” initiative, the study car demonstrates how combining the flexibility of the modular architecture of electric vehicles with the possibilities of machine learning and science can lead to a new way to visualize and make transportation unique to the individual. . In this new era of what Seymourpowell calls “eclectic body building”, customers can order vehicles that express their identity, values ​​and desires in a much more intimate way than has been possible until now.

The Lean system seems quite simple. It basically mirrors the concept of mass platform sharing used by automotive giants such as Volkswagen Group and Stellantis, which usually work with a single base to create various body styles and brand expressions. The skinny cars are supported by a similar electric skateboard chassis, onto which different interior layouts and body shells can be applied and then 3D printed with little delay in manufacturing time. Additionally, batteries can be moved to mimic front or mid-engine layouts, while crash tests are performed virtually and suspension configurations by algorithms.

Rather than autonomy making driving experiences more sterile, Seymourpowell says we can apply technology to do the opposite: help drivers learn the limits of their vehicles while unlocking exciting new driving experiences on the road and on the road. the track with advanced driver assists. Meanwhile, in the same way that our fashion or diets can express our values, material choices and color statements will do the same for future drivers.

Intrigued, I contacted Seymourpowell’s transport manager, Jeremy White, to find out more about the Lean concept.

Nargess Banks: Am I right in saying that you advocate a return to bodywork, but using advanced technology to create even more individual and personal expressions?

Jeremy White: We believe the simplicity of electric vehicle architecture will provide opportunities within the automotive supply chain to standardize and “produce” components or even complete vehicle platforms.

These turnkey platform solutions can enable a multitude of new vehicle manufacturers or small and varied refinish centers to enter the market. These companies could build bespoke vehicles on top of these standardized platforms, supported by advanced design and manufacturing tools. Rapidly evolving from virtual reality design tools to machine learning algorithms, these tools can do some of the heavy lifting, from engineering to 3D printing, with minimal waste and potentially custom parts every cycle. printing.

There must be restrictions…

Yes, there are significant obstacles to this generalization. Not least, homologation and the regulatory constraints of crash certification. However, there will come a time when autonomous technology and advanced driver aids will make the roads and driving much safer.

Crash simulation software is becoming incredibly accurate – simulating the behavior of a very complicated vehicle crash scenario with sensational accuracy is possible. There will be a future where no “real” crash testing is needed, where all testing is performed in the virtual world. This not only reduces the cost of development, but also reduces the carbon footprint of developing a car.

And will this be the moment when you will see a new era of bodybuilding emerge?

With these rapid advancements, we see a future where there will be a modern, technologically advanced and enduring approach to the golden age of mid-20th century coach building. This will allow customers to own vehicles that express their individual identity, values ​​and desires.

To what extent are technologies such as batteries moved to mimic front or mid-engine layouts, while crash tests can be performed virtually and suspension configurations by an algorithm?

In terms of hardware and architecture, electric skateboard rigs are inherently simple. Drive-by-wire systems will now become commonplace. [EV start-up] Canoo showed off the performance and versatility of its skateboard rig during its vehicle tests at Rabbit Dry Lake in California last year.

We also see Tier 1 automotive suppliers, like Bosch, capitalizing on the inherent simplicity of electric drivetrains, already producing products that simplify electric vehicle platforms even further by combining electric motors, motor controllers and gearboxes. of gears in easily packable units.

Lean’s modular EV architecture builds on these advances and provides the flexibility to relocate batteries, motors and drive controls to create different vehicle dynamics and proportions from the same components.

With Lean, were you inspired by the game, because this idea of ​​exploring the virtual world and then bringing your discoveries to the real world seems to correspond to the gaming industry?

Our design Skinny explores the future of driving in a technological and autonomous world, designed specifically for people who love owning and driving a car. We wanted to explore the future of the driving experience and how different levels of range, if tuned in the right way, could instead lead to a more exhilarating driving feel. Anticipated advances in vehicle intelligence, perception and autonomous assistance systems could be used to allow drivers to safely push the performance of their vehicles.

Using technology in this way has the potential to bring the digital world of sim racing closer to its real-life counterpart. What if you could learn to drive your vehicle in the metaverse around your favorite track, giving you the skills to replicate it in the real world?

Imagine a time in the not too distant future when we have reached [next] Level 5 autonomy, where the roads are populated with a mix of cars – those that pick up passengers but have no drivers, unmanned vehicles that deliver goods, and cars that are fully capable of driving entirely by themselves but also have the option of having a driver take over.

These vehicles will not only discern where the edge of the road is and what to do at a junction, but will also recognize, in real time, where and what all vehicles on the road network are doing. Imagine a vehicle that identifies what happens around the next bend, can anticipate pedestrian movements and adjust its settings to account for weather conditions – it would be reasonable to argue that it is almost impossible for this vehicle to crash. In this scenario, you might ask the question, “How would you drive if you knew you couldn’t crash?”

We’re not suggesting that the only real joy of driving comes from street racing or driving like a hooligan but, in this world, we might see the gamification of driving where our vehicles act more like the cars in a video game ( with the level set to easy/safe).

What possibilities does Lean offer in terms of design?

Lean has a modular chassis which is simple in its construction and can offer various car configurations. All configurations are driver-focused, with one- or two-seat configurations and a three-seat configuration with a central operator station. Major components, such as batteries, motors, brakes and suspension, would be delivered by Tier 1 suppliers – proven technology already certified for the road.

Custom design allows companies to respond to people’s changing needs and desires. All vehicle touchpoints can be customized to express the individuality of the owner. For example, could a vegan interior or the use of sustainable, circular exterior materials install pride of ownership? A return to bodywork could lead to the specification of locally sourced handcrafted materials that could exist in a circular model. We can imagine a future where cars are defined by where they come from.

Modern car culture is more diverse than ever. All over the world, subcultures revolve around the car and everything it stands for. Vehicles like Lean could usher in a new era of aspirational vehicles that are highly desirable, inherently sustainable and harness the best of autonomous technology to create new and exciting driving experiences.

Learn more about Seymourpowell quarter cara self-driving carpool electric vehicle with retractable partitions inside so the host company can customize four individual areas based on customer needs and then charge per space.

Also discover the latest innovations from Audi with an eye to the future Urbansphere and read why industrial designer Chris Bangle argues for a reinvention of automotive design in the afterburner era.

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