In pictures: Futuristic designs for the 3D printed cars of tomorrow

This futuristic looking electric car has been selected to be 3D printed as part of a competition to showcase the potential of the fast-developing printing technology.

It will be turned into a working vehicle using the technology, following a competition that saw would-be vehicle designers submitting their proposals for the cars of tomorrow.

US car manufacturing maverick Local Motors launched the competition to design the first 3D printed electric vehicle earlier this year.

The chosen design will be printed using a Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine, the first large-scale 3D printer of its kind, at September’s International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago.

The winner was chosen by a panel of judges, who also awarded six other design innovation awards for unique concepts and ideas. Here we take a closer look at the winning designs.

Strati: Winner

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The winning design was created by Italian designer Michele Anoé, who developed this compact car to be easily be entered and not look out of place on our roads.

It will inspire the full-size 3D printed prototype.

Lonnie Love, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said: “Michele’s design offers an excellent balance between innovation, complexity and practicality. It has good 3D lines and the retractable roof is really cool.”


Internal Strut Frame

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This design has an innovative structure that uses vertical struts to support the upper surfaces of the vehicle.

The concept was selected as the community favourite.


Aeroblade

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The Aeroblade was designed to try and push new aerodynamic techniques by conducting the airflow through uniquely designed 3D blades.

Judges described the design as being very futuristic-looking.


3DPCX

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The 3DPCX looks slightly like an expanded go-kart, but the car uses creative structural support to help hold it together.

Judges praised the vehicle for its simplicity but ability to still be innovative.


LM Supernova

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The design was inspired by supernovas in space, which the designer describes as ‘exploding in a very aggressive way’.

It was commended by the judges for taking functional elements and combining them within a lightweight vehicle.


Mirage

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The Mirage was rewarded not only for being innovative but for also combining a unique feature.

It received an innovation award for incorporating layers to create a 3D printed ‘crumple zone’ to protect the occupants in the case of an accident.


LM e-Spider

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The e-Spider was designed to try and achieve maximum strength while also using less material.

Judges said: “A tribute to the minimalist in all of us, the e-Spider merges the efficiency of a smart car with the effectiveness of a desert dune buggy.”


All images courtesy of IMTS. 


Robot nanny to be sold in Japanese stores from 2015

SoftBank, a Japanese technology megacorporation, has announced the launch of an emotionally responsive, human-like robot for home use.

The robot, known as Pepper, has been described by the company as the “world’s first personal robot that reads emotions”, and is designed to target Japan’s home care market, which faces a significant shortfall of workers.

The robot is primarily being pushed as a companion for children, with SoftBank suggesting Pepper could read and interact with children, later reporting the children’s positive emotional responses to their mothers.

At birthdays, Pepper could be found encouraging fun by initiating singing and dancing, a prospect that’s sure to add additional air of cringe to any family gathering.

Other more serious possible uses for the robot include as a nurse or emergency medical workers. It could also prove an effective companion for elderly people.

Speaking at press conference in Tokyo this morning, Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO, said: “People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart. For the first time in human history, we’re giving a robot a heart, emotions.”

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The robot is designed to ‘learn’ by recognising positive emotions and adjusting its behaviour autonomously in response.

This learning approach is accelerated through an interconnected cloud AI: habits and likes of a family that own a Pepper robot are learnt by the unit and shared with its fellow robots to provide an overall increase emotional response.

Although SoftBank admits that Pepper will initially make mistakes, it believes that over time this cloud AI should result in more empathetic robots that can more accurately read emotions and situations.

With large, round eyes and a build that is highly reminiscent of the NAO robot that is popular with robot researchers working with children, Pepper clearly supports the mantra that faces make robots more trustworthy. And given that parents are being encouraged to treat the robot as a baby sitter, this is a vital component of the robot’s design.

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Pepper will be showcased in SoftBank’s Ginza and Omotesando stores in Tokyo from tomorrow as a greeter, so we are likely to hear early feedback about its effectiveness within weeks.

We’ll have to wait longer to learn how it fairs in homes, though, as it won’t be available for sale until February 2015.

Once it does go on sale, however, it could prove a runaway success. Pepper is being retailed at the shockingly reasonable price of ¥198,000 (£1,150/$1,900) plus tax, making it within reach of typical families, as well as schools and care homes.


Images courtesy of SoftBank.