Mike Simonian and Maaike Evers of mike and maaike, an experimental industrial design studio in San Francisco, gave a talk today at Dwell on Design on the possible direction of car design over the next 30 years.
Describing their design process as “hands-on and discovery-based” as opposed to strategic, Mike explained that they recently tackled car design (after doing everything from jewelry to furniture) to provide an outsider’s point of view.
Maaike ran the audience through the questions they asked themselves as they started this process. Why do our cars go up to 120mph, when we mostly sit in traffic? Why don’t I enjoy driving? Why are there so many traffic laws? Why does my car spend so much time parked at the curb? Ultimately, they asked themselves—what would the ideal driving experience be?
Their answer? Not driving.
With millions of car accidents each year, not to mention thousands of fatalities from human error and drunk driving, their conclusion was that humans are not fit for driving. Now, gearheads might take issue with such a statement, but the future that Mike and Maaike envision moves beyond the car archetype. It’s about exiting one living space (your home) and entering another (your car).
Their design orients the passenger towards the view. Their applications allow the passenger to select the quickest route, the most scenic drive or a detour from the usual. Their “autonomobile” is a “shift from styling cars to redefining them.”
The life-enriching benefits of such a mode of transportation are numerous—fewer fatalities, an always available designated driver, and a way to hitchhike but with people you know...not to mention providing mobility to the handicapped and the elderly.
Mike even suggested that in a fully autonomous car world, you would be able to download different drivers. Which begs the question, are you feeling more like Mario Andretti or dear ol’ gran this morning?