The Coventry University Automotive Degree Show once again showcased the talented designers who are benefiting from the UK’s leading position of developing highly creative design professionals.
This year the diversity across the projects was a clear strategy from the course, with well resolved concepts for motorcycles, superyachts, commercial vehicles as well as cars. The Contechs’ awards clearly reflected this in their choices too.
Individuals were highlighting their personal experiences / specialisms to differentiate themselves, from gaming inspired solutions, motorsport placement aerodynamics led functionality and one of the hot topics interior psychology, with shared and personal space in the one environment requiring a lot of thought.
However two of my personal favourites were about creating drama by creating voids. Electrical motorcycles have a tendency to look unexciting as the technical interest of a traditional engine is replaced with a plain panel, but Alex Brown managed to open up this space and inject interest with his quick release battery canisters.
Christofer Saetrang achieved the same level of intrigue with his Alfa Milano proposal, the space between the front wheels bringing theatre with glowing brake discs. Other clever details across his car, along with a well-proportioned design, made the Contechs’ judging panel’s job easier in choosing their winner.
The degree show was once again worth visiting, with the students’ willingness to discuss their projects making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
In the world of the design consultancy we are familiar with getting a wide variety of clients through our doors, along with a vast amount of projects from supercars to space craft … however … every so often there is always something you were least expecting.
So when a Top Gear producer entered Drive’s design studio; a world where dreams are created, made, smashed and cherished, he approached with a big grin on his face, beaming with his latest project for us to get involved with …
A brief was set out, to turn a common tractor into a ‘supercar-tractor’, to alleviate the common countryside issues of being stuck behind a tractor at speeds of 15mph for miles and miles … So this creation was to have a handsome V8 – it sounded like a good start. Other aspects for the new extreme farming solution was that it would have to be able to retain all the functionality of a current tractor; ploughing, towing, ground clearance etc.
So it couldn’t be compromised by its new super-car styling.
So with the desires of Matt Le Blanc outlined, the initial visual cues for the Track-tor were down-force, extreme styling, aggression and a McLaren F1 inspired seating arrangement. Large splitters and diffusers were a go head!
The designs were swept off to the Top Gear fabrication team, and our usual design process, common throughout the car design industry, of sketch, alias Cad, CNC mills, reviews, dynoc / highlight checks, was ……. side stepped. Let’s just say the result was a true one off, bespoke hand crafted in the true tradition of British engineering ingenuity and excellence.
A fun project to have completed and it was great to be able to get down to the Top Gear studio to watch the show filmed live as a bonus. The Track-tor appeared on Country File and Top Gear and excelled in every test thrown at it, on track, road and field! (25th March 2017)
Drive can sleep soundly at night knowing that we have helped Top Gear solve tractor traffic congestion.
images subject to copyright – image courtesy of TopGear www.topgear.com
Virtual reality is something that is allowing design teams to develop concepts quicker and resolve issues earlier and here at the Drive Studio we now have a fantastic Virtual Reality design set up to which we are all becoming accustomed to using in our day to day work.
So how have we facilitated the use of the VR set up within the studio? We are always finding new ways to use it, but within the realms of being a beneficial tool rather than being a slave to it. A good example is this Bugatti concept , that enables us to show off the benefits of using VR to our automotive clients.
Projects like this are an important to everyone at Drive, with our passion for automotive design and especially for anything that goes fast is in our DNA. With the initial concept penned everyone was unable to resist getting involved with something as extreme as this. We worked together to design, resolve and refine the concept simultaneously combining our work flows through Photoshop, Alias and VR.
The use of VR is a great tool to check the design through the modelling development process and helps both modeller and designer. An instant tool at our finger tips that allowed us to critique and rapidly develop the concept, producing a better result in a quicker time frame. As a tool VR makes you aware of the digital model issues you normally only realise when you are standing in front of a full scale clay. I am a firm believer in the development of a physical model, and VR is a benefit to allow any studio to start physical modelling stage from a more advanced point, speeding up the process and saving time.
We use various systems from Autodesk VRED, Unreal Engine and Unity to create the Virual Reality experiences. We will be very pleased to discuss your requirements and support your adoption of the technology into your work flow.
New Design magazine editor, Alistair Welch, recently visited Drive for their consultancy feature in the 2017 automotive design edition.
The article records his conversation with Drive directors Chris Longmore and Mark Pritchard and looks at some recent milestone projects in the company’s 20 year history, while design lead Mark Przeslawski gives his thoughts on both the challenges and opportunities that electrified powertrains and autonomous systems are presenting automotive designers and companies.
Read the article here Drive – Automotive Design Company – New Design Magazine
Alistair Welch @alinewdesign
The race to produce the first production autonomous supercar is well and truely on, as many doomsayers mourn the passing of true driving – missed gearshifts and terrible lines around corners – Supercar manufacturers and their highly specialised engineers are more excited than ever. Why? ….
…. because they will at last see their cars perform at the maximum. Currently they resign themselves to the fact that the people who buy these ultimate performance vehicles are unable to exploit the full potential of the car.
Far from autonomous cars reducing us all to the lowest common denominator commuter speeds, the real benefit is for ‘B’ road experiences like never before.
With autonomous control, owners will choose their preferred setting, not suspension stiffness but style of driving, clicking the dial to their driver of choice. And it is here that McLaren and Mercedes have stolen a march on their competitors. Mercedes are now able to use the 2016 data of the current world champion Rosberg without giving away any advantage to their current F1 opposition, and McLaren have played a blinder, creating a scenario where they will have 2017 data from two world champions, Button racing in a one off at Monaco, and Alonso covering off the US market at Indy.
Moving to autonomy has relieved the need for a steering wheel, and this reduction in production costs for right and left hand drive, has allowed other manufacturers to contemplate entering the supercar market, and niche to compete on more even terms. With steering wheels, pedals and gear shifts now being additional cost options for those who wish to pretend to be driving, the commercial benefits are clear.
So with autonomous supercars using all the latest sophisticated positioning and sensoring technology, the passenger phrase “Slow down, you don’t know what’s around the corner” will at last be erased from the English language.