Friday, October 29, 2010

A car that is grown instead of assembled

The chance that you are anywhere near L.A. lies probably near 0.5%, but if you are, and like terrific concepts, go to the Los Angeles Auto Show. It is there that you can see the result of a design competition for a future car below a thousand pounds of weight, including some radical but mind-opening concepts.

For once, innovative thinking goes into changing the entire means of production of cars, and draws its inspiration from biology. The Mercedes Benz Biome concept is one of the most extreme ones I have seen, if not the most extreme. It imagines a car that is grown out of one module, submerged in a `Nursery´ where cars are developed in a matter of days. Like the human body, the car would essentially be one integrated system, with except for probably the wheels, no separate parts. The car has no engine. Power deliverance is biologically integrated into the system by having it feed on a nectar that is synthesized from plants and from solar energy. This way, we make technology dependent, or in fact an intrinsic part of, our natural environment, so we have to take care of it very well. It´s a fair idea to me that we do not only create economic, human value out of nature, but that also we create natural value out of human endeavors.

Other almost equally far-out concepts are the Toyota Nori, made out of seaweed and carbon fiber, the bionic Nissan iV, and the Smart 454 that is produced by knitting robots. Is that hinting at an answer to how an aging population can still add value? Personally, I will be quite excited to see either one of these concepts on the road in my lifetime.

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