Reading Week July 8 2016

08 July 2016 | by Tom Phillips

Car design needs to have a context. Whether that's market trends in the here-and-now, or projections and predictions as to how people are going to travel around in the future, designers cannot – and must not – work in a vacuum.

But we also realise there is so much information flying around it's difficult to keep track and pick out the relevant things from the noise. With this in mind, we've rounded up some thought-provoking, inspiring and otherwise interesting stories we've read this week:

Interesting perspectives on autonomy

There’s no escaping the fact that on of the biggest issues facing car designers right now is the seemingly-inevitable rise of autonomous vehicles. But while the tech is nascent in cars, despite being conceptualised in the automotive space decades ago (see pic), it’s been a part of aviation for some time, giving that industry a chance to learn and adapt to its strengths and weaknesses. In two podcasts, 99 Percent Invisible explores the aviation industry’s use of autonomy, and then moves on to assess the impact that this is likely to have on automotive applications. Each podcast is around 25-minutes long, and well worth a listen.

Part 1: Children of the Magenta
Part 2: Johnnycab

McLaren connects with its audience

We’re still at a point where corporate businesses are working out how best to use video as a medium to communicate with its audience. McLaren is pretty active on this front, and its latest effort is its best so far. This clip, entitled ‘All in a Day’s Work’, features Go Hiramatsu, a lawyer from Tokyo, Japan, who uses his acid green P1 as his daily driver, as well as on tracks like Fuji at the weekend. McLaren insisting that every reference to ‘P1™’ is followed by trademark superscript seems like overkill, but the video is nicely shot, and its refreshing to know that at least one of McLaren’s hypercars is getting regular use.

GINA inspires sneakers

The GINA concept, complete with its flexible fabric outer shell that stretched over a movable structure, defined Chris Bangle’s time as BMW Group’s chief of design, showing what could be created by designers given space and time to develop new ideas. The concept, and the whole design process that went into creating it, is still inspiring people and processes to this day, with the Puma X-CAT DISC trainer, launched on 1 July a case in point. The shoe has been created as part of a collaboration between Puma and BMW Designworks, and brings life to what footwear rethought through the medium of car design looks like – free of laces, lightweight and comfortable.

They see me rollin’

Canadian inventor, William Liddiard, has combined reinventing the wheel with rethinking the tyre to create an omni-directional wheel. The idea has been explored with concept cars and already exists in commercial applications, such as Airtrax’ Sidewinder forklift trucks. However, Liddiard claims his invention is the first bolt-on omni-wheel solution for any car, as proved by his rotating Toyota Echo in the video. Liddiard is making big claims for the wheels, including their robustness, although the video doesn’t show any proof. He is currently seeking a backer to bring the wheels to market.

Blog of the week: Stance Works 

The site describes the way it approaches the world of cars “with wide eyes, an open mind, and a goal to share the every day inspiration and dedication found in enthusiasts' garages, driveways, and streets around the world.” Always plenty of features that show off a whole host of cars tuned in interesting and often unexpected ways.