Creating the Future of Mobility

By Neno

Recently, German Handelsblatt published an interesting photo gallery on the Future of Mobility as it’s shown by automotive innovators on this year’s L.A. Auto Show.

I found this an amazing perspective, and a pity it seems still somewhat far off from today’s real life vehicle innovation on the glossy stages of the motor show. Now we know innovation cycles are getting rapidly shorter; the future is accelerating and those mobility dreams of tomorrow might be already parking in front of our doors.

The innovation forefront of our vehicle manufacturers is creating fascinating designs of mobility solutions that are integrated into their urban, architectural and energy systems in surprisingly new ways:

  • Bio engineering and new intelligent materials will make our vehicles more personal and relevant for us. At the same time, we will have safe and seamless mobility experiences.
  • Our future mobility solutions will be modular and integrated with smart grids. This is how they will become lean and sustainable – in their production, in use and when they are withdrawn from service.
  • Wheel-less concepts might even take us off-road Kangaroo-like or swarm under ground like river fish. Can this go as far as for our roads to become playgrounds then?

The high performance, multifunctional and configurable vehicles so many people can afford today – are the result of at least 50 years of engineering of systems and processes.

  • For a vehicle to perform according to requirements, many thousands of variables and relationships between electrical, mechanical and software components need to be designed, tested and validated for faultless operation.
  • For a vehicle to get from the design office to the dealers showroom at the right time at right cost and right quality – cash flow management and production processes including supply chain must be excellent.

Obviously – to minimize cost, time and errors – most of these creative, procedural and administrative activities are being carried out virtually today. The boundaries today are the “vehicle” or “production plant” systems. These systems can be managed and their physical, logical and human interfaces to the external world are defined. It is common practice today to virtually validate the kinematic behavior of an opening car door, the mechatronic behavior of an electric window closing and the procedural behavior of an assembly line design.

When we think about new mobility experiences, their boundaries are being opened; physical interfaces will be arbitrary, human interaction unprecedented. It seems that the creators of these new experiences will have to be designers, architects and strategists with a “magic” imagination to create and communicate possible scenarios and behaviors. More than likely, they will use software tools to immersively navigate mobility concepts that don’t yet exist. Intelligent virtual universes will help them dynamically explore ideas in precise physical and logical conditions. Similar to how we can simulate how a cat sees our urban reality, the creators of tomorrow’s mobility solutions will be able to take any perspective they want to ensure we will like and value their invention. I can hardly wait for this new era of mobility experiences  :-)

Go innovators, go!!  :D

Neno HorvatNeno HORVAT is a member of the Transportation&Mobility Industry team.

How Social Innovation turns into Mobility for all

By Jacques

Last week I was at the French startup event LeWeb’12 to get some fresh ideas about digital marketing trends on the startup scene. The theme of this year was the IoT aka the “Internet of Things”, so you could find many connected devices : smartphones, thermostats, watches, drones, headsets, weight or blood trackers that were all mobile and connected things. So why not connect these geeky devices to more familiar transportation & mobility products? IF WE connect internet and transportation, can it offer innovative and profitable mobility concepts?

I was there in my reflexions when I saw the Renault booth at LeWeb and just decided to chat with them to share ideas. And since I had my smartphone with me, I used it to record this impromptu one shot video, so pardon its low quality.

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Getting people back to work thanks to the Mobility community

I met with Florent d’Yvoire, who is project manager on the Renault-MOBILIZ Social Business project to know more about mobility innovation. Our main discussion was about the Renault-MOBILIZ which I found very innovative but not on technology as we usually expect, but more on the business side: This project was born at the Corporate Social Responsibility department of Renault with a vision: looking for sustainable ways to help the poorest benefit from an affordable mobility, so that they can find work and get out of poverty. Beyond that, the innovation is also in the business model that is inspired by the microcredit concept developed by Muhammad Yunus so that it can ensure the financial viability of the project.

In this context the Renault-MOBILIZ program is looking for more connections within the transportation and mobility community of professionals: they are looking for partnerships with entreprises and citizens on providing products, services, and assistance in getting driver’s licenses. Dassault Systèmes can certainly help with its communication to transportation & mobility professionals. More to come on this…

A car-sharing pilot with electric cars

Renault also launched Twizyway, an innovative car-sharing concept in the Paris area with 50 Twizy. These 100% battery-driven cars are beautiful, fun and safe to drive. They are available all day and are tracked and booked via smartphone apps. People use these cars then leave them in the location of their convenience to ensure maximum flexibility for drivers. Customers just scan a QR Code on the windshield and go. So this is quite similar to the Autolib project deployed near there in Paris, but with less constraints at first glance.

Digital apps on the dashboard of your car

The final topic presented by Renault was the second edition of their “call for apps” that will be installed on the dashboard of future cars in a tablet called R-Link. New Zoe and Clio models will benefit from them , Renault was there to call for startups willing to develop new services on their infrastructure.

Renault’s motto is “Drive the change”, now you can see why!  What about you, how would you match internet and transportation yourself? Do you see the digitalization of the world as an opportunity for new mobilities?

Thanks for posting your view in the “comments” field below



Jacques Bidault is Industry Marketing Director, Transportation and Mobility at Dassault Systèmes



Aircruise Design Innovation Muse

By Kate

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When I watched the Aircruise concept video, I got all musical.  Van Morrison’s “Moondance” came to mind, as well as “Up Up and Away

You see Aircruise is not a hot air balloon, nor a cruise ship, nor hotel.  It’s kind of a combination of all.  An air-floating vessel for folks who like the luxury of slow.

Nick TalbotHoping it’ll get you musical as well, I’d like to show you the video and then share my interview with Nick Talbot, design director at Seymourpowell (the design and innovation company behind Aircruise).

Here’s what I asked Nick:

  1. I’ve read the Aircruise is a “visionary approach to the future.”  Your design certainly inspires, but how feasible would it be to build today given existing materials?  What must we invent to permit the production of Aircruise?
  2. Aircruise is designed to be powered by natural energy.  How would this work?
  3. How important was 3D software to your design concept, and at what stage did you integrate it to the process?
  4. What is the relationship between 3D, creative ideation and innovation?
  5. When can I spend the night in the Aircruise?
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Interview with Nick Talbot:

Q:  I’ve read that Aircruise is a “visionary approach to the future.”  Your design certainly inspires, but how feasible would it be to build today given existing materials?  What must we invent to permit the production of Aircruise?

Many of the materials required are already in use on airliners and increasingly on luxury yachts to minimise weight . For example carbon composites or carbon/carbon honeycomb, or aluminium honeycombs faced with the appropriate aesthetic finish.  We are also interested in exploring new forms of woven and ‘constructed’ fabrics for partitions and facades – again in pursuit of minimum weight. For the primary structure, we foresee an all composite lattice, with the gas systems integrated into the structural frame. Our underlying idea is to apply aerospace materials and assembly technologies and techniques to a vehicle at the scale of the Tour Eiffel. Probably assembled top down or hung like a ‘seed’ so the primary structure is in tension before the lifting bags are introduced.

Q:  Aircruise is designed to be powered by natural energy.  How would this work?

Flexible photovoltaic (solar panel) cells cover the upper part of the envelope, augmenting the primary power generation, in this case from fuel cells. Large surface area PEM fuel cells generate the primary power for on board systems and turn low speed compressors located in the mid section of the ship. This compressed gas is ducted to provide directional thrust and auto stabilisation. Compressed hydrogen stored in parts of the main structure provides fuel for longer ranges and by venting to the envelope or re-compressing these volumes, altitude stability is achieved.

Q:  How important was 3D software to your design concept, and at what stage did you integrate it to your process?

Generating the concept or indeed any concept is still done with brains and pencils! So the conceptual jump to a luxury hotel that floats was a thought exercise. Very rapidly however, we developed a series of layouts and configurations for the structure, accommodation floors, systems and overall volume of the lifting volume. So 3D systems rapidly help us validate early weight and lifting volume calculations, even at the most basic level.

Q:  What is the relationship between 3D, creative ideation and innovation?

For our studio the relationship is very close and entirely iterative. We establish an idea or ‘hypothesis’ and use 3D systems to validate at the first round, then re-evaluate the outcome, generate refined or modified ideas and take them back into 3D. We never commit time and resource to 3D models until we have a clear idea of the concept, however. The idea must be conceptually robust before we take it to the 3D phase. In fact, ‘old fashioned’ as it sounds we still often use simple 2D systems to establish the basic proportions and layouts before importing that for surface and volume building.

Q:  When can I spend the night in the Aircruise?

Watch this space! It is possible – in a sense that’s key the point of the project, to encourage people to think about a positive brighter future, to think about new possibilities. But of course such a project would require huge investment in R+D, new materials, structures, guidance and control systems etc. It is unlikely that an individual company or consortium could afford this undertaking on a commercial basis at present. But who knows – as land values increase or the sea levels rise, we might have to look at how and where we live in a whole new way. What’s really needed is some seed funding to undertake a proper feasibility study –not just from an engineering viewpoint, but potential market and business case. Never say never!


Many thanks Nick for your answers and to Tim Duncan for putting us in touch!

I’d certainly like to fly in [your] beautiful balloon hotel!

What do you readers think about Aircruise?



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