Some technologies get their day in the sun, at the minute, as Sony prepare to launch Playstation VR, it is Virtual Reality, in 2015 it was the driverless car and the year before that it was 3D printing. While VR is finding it's place in leisure the latter two have been firmly camped out in practical and industrial solutions.
Honda however wanted to understand how autonomous vehicles could affect the way we enjoy travel and commissioned Map Office Project and Mori Inc to display how. The result is The Great Journey, a seven different autonomous vehicles concept demonstrating how technology could be applied to enjoy a 36,412 km route from Africa to South America replicating a human migration from thousands of years ago.
In order to successfully visualise this concept the model-making and 3D printing expertise of Letchworth-based prototyping firm Ogle Models & Prototypes was enlisted. The Hertfordshire firm's SLA technology was used to create seven concept models for beautiful Honda's advertising campaign, each 1:24 scaled model was painstakingly finished by Ogle's team of expert model-makers.
SLA prints before finishing
Dave Bennion the Marketing and Sales Director for Ogle, said: “The accuracy demanded of our people and machines was significant. To achieve the required paint finishes and component parts for the models, there was no room for error. Each finish had to be executed to perfection, resulting in a seamless look when being filmed.
“We are extremely proud to have been selected to produce such intricate and unique models for such a household brand and were delighted to receive such positive feedback."
Finishing the models by hand
THE GREAT JOURNEY
The seven vehicles that Honda envisage would take an intrepid adventurer autonomously from Africa to South America, each vehicle is designed with both a travelling and resting compartment, each taking into account the various terrains travailed at different parts of the journey. Marvellous stuff:
1. Safari Drifter
The first part of the journey from Nairobi to Khartoum would use a Safari Drifter vehicle - a combination of safari truck and motorhome complete with a robotic lawnmower that cuts grass and tracks animals. Of an evening travellers would retire to the canopy, which would be lifted from the vehicle to enjoy views across the plains.
2. Desert Train
Next on the Great Journey would take the traveller across much of the Great (Sahrara) Desert, from Khartoum to Karachi. Inspired by camel trains that have crossed the desert for thousands of years the Desert Train would use Honda's Fuel Cell technology, which only emits water that can be collected for consumption as the vehicle unfolds into a sort of Bedouin Tent for stargazing of an evening.
3. Mountain Climber
Perhaps the most far-fetched vehicle in the concept it is still based on genuine Honda technology in the form of its ASIMO robotic technology. The journey from Karachi to Shenzhen is a treacherous one with rockfalls a familiar site across the Himalayas, the Mountain Climber would be able to lift itself onto four robotic legs in the event of a blocked off road and a robotic arm would seek to fix the pathway for the next user.
4. Island Hopper
Since James Bond's Lotus Esprit submerged itself in The Spy Who Loved Me amphibious vehicles have been in the public consciousness, the journey from Karachi to Shenzhen would be a water-filled one and as such requires the Island Hopper vehicle to travail land and sea. Inspired by Honda's lightweight F1 designs the solar powered vehicle would rest on water with a hammock during the evening, a design which proved particularly difficult:
"To create a hammock effect, a net finish was achieved by sourcing multiple net fabrics and lacquering the component parts, so that they were clear, before applying paint over the pattern of the fabric." said Ogle's Dave Bennion.
5. Tundra Sled
Inspired by traditional dog sleds that humans have used for over 4,000 years the journey from Kamchatka to Fairbanks would be by Tundra Sled, six drones would pull the living quarters across the snow and ice. The drones are inspired by Honda's self balancing technology and would also be able to detect cracks in the ice. For a spot of R&R Honda have included a telescope and a hot-tub.
6. Road Tripper
A journey this editor has partaken part of would see panoramic viewing down the west coast of America from Fairbanks to Mexico City. This vehicle is based on Honda's Gyro Steering technology to lean in to take corners of cliff faces allowing the riders to pull up and enjoy the Big Sur surf.
7. Jungle Jumper
The final leg of the journey from Mexico City to Manaus involves a fair chunk of the Amazon and as such the concept is based on Honda's lightweight classic T360 truck, which would have six wheels capable of ploughing through muddy conditions. Of an evening when the truck is parked up the living quarters would raise up to the forrest canopy giving the traveller jungle-wide treetop views. The model of this was required to have functional moving parts to demonstrate the raising habitation unit, this required extensive balance and strength testing as proof of concept.