When TRL, the centre for innovation in transport, and Imperial College joined heads, it was a meeting of engineering minds. They came to us asking: ‘what could an autonomous urban public transport vehicle look like in the future?’ Together, we investigated the intricacies of passenger safety – developing an inclusive vehicle interior that was high form and high function.
Imagining a near future
We imagined the day when autonomous and conventional vehicles could coexist. Research helped us identify user needs and led to a transit van-sized model suitable for short journeys across town. But how could we minimise the risk of impact in the event of a collision? We mocked up semi-standing seats, lower seating for families and accessible space for wheelchairs and prams; adjustable seats help those with limited mobility.
Safe by design
With insights from virtual crash testing, we brainstormed a variety of safety features. Side airbags could hold passengers in the semi-standing zone upright. Integrated grab handles for seats would reduce the danger of collision with protruding parts. Every base was covered.