Transport for the 21st century: Cargo ‘blimps’, self-driving boats and solar-powered trikes among entries for vehicle design awards

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The DHL Blue Sky Transport Design Award asked entrants to design a sustainable, electric transport option
The winning entry was designed by Royal College of Art graduates Philippe Hohfeld and Oliver Lehtonen’s 
Called Water Strider, it is a streamlined delivery boat designed to ship cargo on both rivers and oceans
Other entries included tilting solar-powered trikes, self-driving pods with built in massage chairs and cargo blimps


Drones have been promised as the future of deliveries but they’re never going to be able to replace the large vans, cargo ships and freight trains needed for shipping around the world. With this in mind, designers and engineers have submitted entries to the DHL Blue Sky Transport Design Award each hoping to tackle the problem of moving people and goods around towns and cities, while reducing fuel costs and pollution. Concepts include tilting, solar-powered trikes, cargo ‘blimps’ and self-driving pods with massage chairs but the winning design was awarded to a pair of London art graduates for the Water Slider – a streamlined delivery boat designed to ship cargo on both rivers and oceans. The DHL Blue Sky Transport Design Award is a global competition that asked entrants to design ‘sustainable, electric transport solutions for private, public or commercial use.’Entrants from Australia, China, Russia and the UK submitted ideas ranging from self-driving cargo vehicles for passenger or cargo transport and hybrid airships to cable car systems integrated with a city’s trees.


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The DHL Blue Sky Transport Design Award is a global competition that asked entrants to design ‘sustainable, electric transport solutions for private, public or commercial use.’ The winning design Water Slider (pictured) was created by Philippe Hohfeld and Oliver Lehtonen’s


The winning design Water Slider was created by Philippe Hohfeld and Oliver Lehtonen’s. It is a self-driving hydrofoil electric boat capable of carrying up to five cubic metres of cargo through a country’s waterways. Its prototype will be unveiled today at PriestmanGoode’s design studio in London. Mr Hohfeld, from Finland, and Austrian Mr Lehtonen are both graduating students of Transport Design at the Royal College of Art in London. They said: ‘The Water Strider solution derives from the fact that the majority of the world’s major cities are accessed through waterways. ‘This inspired us to create a model for autonomous delivery boats to take advantage of existing infrastructure: rivers and oceans. This innovative technology and approach enables a fast, quiet and clean delivery service.’ Submissions were evaluated based on criteria including their originality, functionality, aesthetics, commercial feasibility and potential to solve the problems they are intended to address. The winners were selected by a jury including experts from Formula E, the Andretti FE racing team, Wired magazine and DHL Express, and will be presented with a prize of £10,000 ($15,000).


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Nature Express, the concept designed by Songwei Tao from Singapore, was designed to make transport blend in with the environment. It consists of single seated pods that can be used to transport both commuters and goods around towns and cities (pictured)


Other finalists included China-based Yibo Wu’s Happie project that consists of small self-driving pods that can seat at least two passengers and use ‘Cushions’ to change the interior. These Cushions can be either for comfort, or be functional. For example, Wu explained the cushions could double up as speakers, screens, ambient lights and massage chairs. More advanced, futuristic Cushions could even help people sleep by precisely controlling the temperature and oxygen density inside the pod, or by providing body condition scans to check the health of passengers. Wu imagines these Cushions being swapped in and out, depending on the length of journey or the needs of passengers. ‘Powered by autonomous driving technology, aiming at the future lifestyle, challenging the traditional business model, the Happie will bring happiness and enjoyment to the future,’ explained Wu. ‘In [this] project I try to explore the possible application of autonomous car in future lives. ‘With the ‘Cushion’ concept, I create a dynamic interior landscape in the self-driving car which fits the future car sharing and flexible working places scenario. Moreover, the concept will also make a difference in future design industry. Nature Express, the concept designed by Songwei Tao from Singapore, was designed to make transport blend in with the environment. It consists of single seated pods that can be used to transport both commuters and goods around towns and cities.

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