Ford is hard at work on its very own autonomous technology efforts, many in conjunction with Argo AI. But the automaker also supports a variety of up and coming designers in this field. That includes Marius Lochner, a transport design graduate from Staffordshire University in the U.K., who was recently awarded Ford’s “New Norm Mobility Award” for his self-driving taxi concept.
Lochner’s self-driving taxi concept, dubbed “muvone,” is designed to help people, particularly those with restricted mobility, get around safely and securely while also adhering to social distancing guidelines. As a self-driving taxi for one, the muvone concept puts the priority on secure individual mobility, enabling people to travel where and when they want in comfort.
The muvone concept features a minimalist interior with flat surfaces and easy-to-clean materials so the vehicle can be disinfected between journeys. Designed to enable greater social inclusion at a time when disabled people need it most, the ease of accessibility makes muvone highly suitable for senior citizens and people with restricted mobility.
As a smart vehicle for a smart world – one that puts the focus on the privacy and security of the individual – muvone sits very closely with Ford’s human-centric approach to design. The concept’s welcoming design language, thoughtful branding, and suitability for use with current urban infrastructure helped elevate it above the other entries.
The New Norm Mobility Award is part of the “New Designers Awards,” the largest design graduate show in the U.K., which is open to students graduating in design. This year, the show was held virtually. For his winning concept, Lochner receives £1,000 ($1,295), plus a semester of mentoring from Ford of Europe chief designers Ernst Reim and Sonja Vandenberk, who were part of the judging panel along with Hamilton and Amko Leenarts, Ford’s European director of Design.
The award was run in partnership with Top Gear magazine. Charlie Turner, editorial director of Top Gear, was part of the judging panel and gave detailed feedback on all the design proposals.
“The breadth and creativity shown in the entries for this challenge was deeply impressive and articulated the true depth of next-generation talent coming through the education system. However, it didn’t make picking a winner easy at all,” said Turner.