The imminent future of driverless cars promises to make driving safer and more efficient… but will this world be more fun? Maybe we’ll all forget how to steer a car, and the joys of the open road will become a thing of the past.
Tell that to Ben Ebel, who helps run the Michelin Challenge Design, a project to discover cars of the future. On the contrary, he says, driverless cars inside cities could free up designers to focus on vehicles created for pleasure outside built-up areas.
Every year, Ebel of Michelin Innovation Incubator in South Carolina and colleagues run a competition to encourage designers to submit their ideas for futuristic vehicles – and this year, the theme was “passion”. The weird and wonderful entries submitted ranged from cars with sails to a vehicle controlled by a driver suspended above the roof in a wingsuit.
Far-out? Perhaps. But as Ebel told BBC Future at the World-Changing Ideas Summit in New York, the point of the challenge is to seek out ground-breaking ideas from all cultures and backgrounds. Fostering this creativity could lead to the next big advance in automotive design.
In the video above, Ebel also told BBC Future what the one thing he thinks is needed for driverless cars to take off.
View all of the designs for the 2015 Michelin Challenge Design (Youngjai Jun/Gunyoung Yoon)