This forward-thinking group project required the identification of how a mobility system in Toronto in 2035 would benefit the city using the Vision in Product Design process. Individual vehicle elements were then designed to form the mobility system.
The group decided on the vision statement of,
‘Provide end to end transport that embraces the diversity of Toronto, conquers its dynamic climate and builds towards a sustainable future’.
Synapse provides outer city family transport as well as inner city autonomous point to point travel. This fills the gap between personal mobility and public busses and trams. The vehicle is also built for longer journeys so families can travel away from Toronto.
The family starts their trip at their home, where Synapse is parked on the driveway. It is driven to the motorway where it transitions to autonomous mode, joining Torontonomy (the overall autonomous mobility system), platooning to the city centre.
Once in autonomy mode, Synapse will clearly indicate it is in control, and the driver will then move their seat to join the passenger area, creating a warm family atmosphere.
When in the city, Synapse will drop off its occupants at their desired location. If desired by the owner, Synapse can operate as a taxi. For example, it will then pick up a group of tourists and take them and their luggage to the airport.
Journeys can be planned by using an app. Much like existing route planning apps users can input their starting point, destination, and time. Impulse also lets them choose what vehicles they want to use or it will suggest the best option next to the planning function, Impulse has an interface that keeps users in touch with their own vehicle. Here they can see information about the battery, or how much they have earned from renting out their Synapse as a taxi. It also lets users recall their vehicle when they need it again or plan when they are going to need it.
The system is based on a few commonalities between all of the participating vehicles. The most obvious is the communication between vehicles in the city’s autonomous zones. The partly autonomous vehicles can only operate autonomously in certain zones: city centre, the airport- and transport hub areas and main arterial roads. The fully autonomous vehicles can travel anywhere within the GTA.
When these vehicles are travelling within autonomous zones, the intelligent light solution presents an orange colour, so passers-by know it is running autonomously. The lights will also interact with the environment around them acknowledging pedestrians and alerting them of their movements. All the vehicles will be electric and will be able to charge at charging stations located throughout the GTA that all vehicles can use.
This 10-week future gazing project was conducted as part of a People in Transit Minor program at TU Delft in the Netherlands during an Erasmus Year.
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