The brief of project aURa was born from a series of workshops carried out in April 2014 in UEM in Madrid. The students were encouraged to think about alternative mobility and social disruption:
” We could consider the automobile as one of the most exotic creations carried out by mankind in the last century; a cultural icon of the 20th century. It was the symbol of the consumer society where social, political and anthropological issues were reflected and embodied in forms. It was, in fact, the most effective media for the materialization of dreams. It became a paradigm, because of its own nature, which was halfway between the most advanced technology and the deepest feelings of end users, thus becoming the perfect example of the era of materialistic culture; an example of mass production, one of the pillars that transformed the industry, habits and environment.
But we are no longer in the twentieth century. The digital or information era has been a paradigm shift for the vast majority of things. Despite this overall change, the auto industry has failed to adapt to it and is still stalled in their dogmatic and intellectual assumptions; “the car” has lost its importance as a symbol of freedom for people. In this period of change where we are now immersed in, new values and perspectives have to be considered in the design of vehicles, so that, these products can be again of interest to end users. The automotive industry needs a profound restructuring at its base; keeping in mind what is the new role of the automobile in the digital society and what are the new paradigms of creation in this new context.
Automated vehicles and alternative power sources are the next step and are here to stay. The rise of a more intelligent, efficient, greener, safer vehicles will lead us to not worry anymore about pollution, congestions or parking issues. Millions of lives and lots of money and seconds will be saved due to the precision of AI Systems. Landscapes, roads, cities, even homes will also have the chance to be rethought again (as they did in the nineteenth Century due to rise of the transportation systems). Everything related with the act of driving and refueling will basically vanish and our daily routines will change. While not driving, passengers might face an enjoyable journey inside their vehicles while commuting; they will be able to read, work, interact, socialize or just relax. This will change considerably the way people behave and live due to the extra amount of time.
All this supposes a profound impact in the vehicle´s package and as well in the way cars are designed and built. With the help of computing, we have now the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of our surroundings, and nature has been selected as our model of inspiration for such end. We now study natural strategies such as movements, actions or behaviors and with the help of additive manufacturing, we adopt them for the creation of our objects; achieving a more efficient, greener, safer, sustainable and in the end, more human objects.”
An interpretation of this brief evolved into a formal proposal developed for Microsoft in 2016. The final output of this project was released 3 years later, in March 2017, meeting the requirements of the Biomimicry contest holded by “Eleven Magazine”.