A self-driving taxi for people with restricted mobility has won a prestigious design award.
The ‘Embark’ concept, which was developed by Calum Gambrill, a Product and Industrial Design student from Ravensbourne University, scooped the Ford Design Award, part of the New Designers 2021 Awards – the largest design graduate show in the UK.
Usha Raghavachari, lab director, D-Ford, said: “The real human rights insights identified by Calum made his entry a standout for us, as Embark embraces human-centred design.
“He also identified an opportunity area for autonomous vehicles, which seems a great match for the needs he defined, illustrating the incredible scope for change this technology can provide.”
Embark is envisioned as an accessible and inclusive taxi service, utilising a dedicated app and a fleet of electric self-driving vehicles. The user hails the vehicle with the app, then enters via a side door ramp.
The onboard Wi-Fi 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.
For his winning concept, Calum receives £1,000 (€1,160) to support the development of his design career, plus two months of mentoring from designers at D-Ford. The judging panel included Leenarts and Raghavachari, along with Betsy Fields-Smith, director of IDEO, and James McLachlan, editor of Car Design News.