Embark design award

A London university student has won a top design award from Ford of Europe after developing a solution that could provide disabled people and senior citizens with an affordable self-driving taxi service to get around cities.

Travelling by car or on public transport can be challenging for people with limited mobility with Department of Transport figures finding that disabled adults make 26 per cent fewer trips than adults without a disability.

To address this issue, Calum Gambrill, a Product and Industrial Design student from Ravensbourne University, came up with an idea for an accessible and inclusive taxi service.

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The ‘Embark’ concept utilises a dedicated app and a fleet of electric self-driving vehicles where by the user hails the vehicle with the app, then enters via a side door ramp.

The onboard WiFi enables passengers to access the internet and listen to music during the journey. The vehicle would also be connected with other autonomous vehicles to calculate the most efficient routes and find available parking. Payment would be per kilometre or through a monthly subscription service.

The ‘Embark’ concept won the Ford Design Award, which forms part of the New Designers 2021 Awards – the largest design graduate show in the UK.

The Ford Award challenges design students to take a human-centric approach to autonomous vehicle concepts, imagining the user experience in terms of interiors, lighting, accessibility and entertainment.

Amko Leenarts, Director of Design for Ford of Europe said: “The future is a designer’s dream. I’m happy to see young people from different creative industries thinking out of the box. We need to embrace unknown things in order to create new inspirational experiences in the car.”.

“The real human rights insights identified by Calum made his entry a standout for us, as ‘Embark’ embraces human-centred design.

For his winning concept, Gambrill receives £1,000 to support the development of his design career, plus two months of mentoring from designers at D-Ford.

James McLachlan, Editor of Car Design News, who was part of the judging panel commented: “While many of the submissions focused on materials and lighting design, the one that put forward a mobility system stood out, as it offers a solution to a tangible problem: improve the prospects of disabled people wishing to travel, a problem pertinent to London and other big cities where the mass transit systems are less than adequate for this often-marginalised section of society.”

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