atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2143: Cars of the future?

Whenever some artist tries to draw "the car of the future" the result falls into one of two categories: either it's a car, or it's "something else with four wheels."

Look at #5, "Aerocoach". That is a car, even if it's meant to fly. Its design is practical and its form follows its function.

#6: I don't know what the hell is up with that. No one would design a suspension like that except an artist who knows little about mechanical engineering. But this one at least looks semi-practical.

#7: "Rescue Vehicle". Totally impractical. No one would build a machine like this except for display only. Its form does not follow its function; it's designed to "look cool" and that's it. (And IMHO it fails even at that.)

Looking at the various images I realized that's what's wrong with so many "car of the future" designs: if you design something practical it'll end up looking like what we drive now, because automobiles have pretty much matured as a technology. We've had the things for more than a century; now we know how to design and build them for efficiency and safety, and to mass-produce them in a cost-effective manner.

You might make some changes to the overall appearance of the thing, but in general "the car of the future" will look very much like "the car of today", because the only thing likely to change about it is the power source, which is not immediately visible.

If we somehow make the move to flying cars--which does not look probable anytime soon absent some radical change in technology--then the design book goes out the window. A flying car does not have to look like a groundcar, and in fact won't look like one. Oh, the earliest examples will--witness how much like horse-drawn carriages the earliest cars look--but soon the designs will change because the basic purpose of the machine has changed. A flying car that looks like a groundcar will be inefficient and much less practical than a flying car which was designed to be a flying car using the engineering acumen of a century's experience of designing and building flying cars. (We don't build airplanes that look like box kites any longer, do we?)

Some of the cars on that page are flying cars, and they run the gamut from "car-like" to "totally not car-like", and the latter is more likely.

So here's a tip for artists out there who want to draw "the car of the future": think about what you're drawing and what the machine will be used for before you start. "It looks cool" might be a good criterion when you're 12; but bear in mind that the inspiration for this series of images came from someone who was trying to design futuristic but practical vehicles for a movie. Most of the vehicles in Blade Runner were utilitarian and slightly ugly.

"Ugly" you can attribute to a change in style; but "utilitarian" never goes out of style. In fact, it always comes first.

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