Roughly a year ago, Honda commissioned UK-based Map Designs to come up with interesting design ideas for future autonomous vehicles. Unlike most of the autonomous projects which focus on making urban friendly commuters, the Maps project set out to explore ideas for long distance tourers.
The project was inspired by the world’s longest human migration route – from Nairobi, Kenya to Manaus, Brazil. The journey which passes through various terrains like ice, water, desert and mountain cannot be embarked upon by a single vehicle. So, Maps came up with 7 different proposals for Honda self-driving concept cars (in the form of toy car-sized prototypes) which use the automaker’s existing technical capabilities. Design inspiration has been derived from Honda’s of 50’s and 60’s.
For the first leg of the journey from Nairobi going to Khartoum, Sudan, the modern Camper would be effective. With its built-in autonomous lawn mover, the self-driving concept cuts tall grasses and makes its own track. The second leg from Khartoum to Karachi, Pakistan involves a lot of sand and the Honda Desert Train concept comes in for rescue. The four-part autonomous vehicle is powered by hydrogen fuel-cell so that the occupants can drink the water which is generated as a byproduct.
The Karachi – Shenzen, China, is a mountainous route wich requires something like Mountain Climber concept which has underbody-mounted robotic legs (inspired by the Honda Asimo robot) to traverse through the landslide areas. The amphibious solar powered Island Hopper takes care of the stretch between Shenzen and Kamchatka Peninsula.
For the ice-filled trip to Fairbanks, Alaska from the peninsula, the electric Tundra Sled concept with self-balancing drones comes in handy. The next leg involving breathtaking west coast highway to Mexico would be best enjoyed on board the Road Tripper concept whose large glass are enables the occupants to take in the scenery.
The final phase of the journey between Mexico and Manaus, Brazil through deep forests could make use of the Jungle Jumper concept which sports a cylindrical living space that can be pulled into the trees.