What does the bus of the future look like? Four exciting concept ideas emerged from a cooperation between Reutlingen University and MAN.
A university experience close to real life: During one semester, 16 students taking the degree course “Transportation Interior Design” at Reutlingen University worked on ideas about how the bus of the future could look like. Four student teams focused intensely on the social, cultural, demographic and technological challenges expected to occur until the year 2050. While emerging nations with a rapidly growing population and ever expanding megacities might will have to face social conflicts, European countries will have to adjust to an ever more ageing population. The student concepts were assigned to cater to these developments.
This is already the seventh university cooperation for MAN. Every other year, the company works with Reutlingen University, the University of Applied Sciences Berlin or the Weißensee Art Academy in Berlin. “The students often approach these issues in a totally open-minded fashion. It is very exciting for us to see how young people think and what their habits are,” says Stephan Schönherr, Vice President Design Bus at MAN. It also has its advantages for students: “It is very interesting for them to work with people who come from experience and practice and to establish contacts,” explains Andrea Lipp, Associate Dean of the study course “Transportation Interior Design” at Reutlingen University.
The student concepts focus on more security in municipal transport, individual needs of passengers and the changed travel patterns of city dwellers as well as coach trips with more flair. All four ideas place passengers at front and centre of their visions.
Felix Schwaderer, Karin Bobka, Sophia-Louisa Grantl and Fabian Schray dedicated their attention primarily to the issue of security. In their concept “Sense of Security”, an autonomously driving line bus reliably chauffeurs passengers through the megacities of the future. Instead of one driver, a so-called organiser will determine the vehicle route. It is also the organiser’s responsibility to scan boarding passengers for any potentially hazardous items whilst in the so-called “Safe Zone”. The main focus of this project is on a sense of quiet and safety. “The vehicle’s security functionality offers passengers the certainty of being in a protective environment,” explains Karin Bobka.
The design vocabulary also plays an important role. According to the motto “hard shell, soft core”, the students designed the exterior in a stable and robust fashion, which offers a contrast to the openly designed interior. New materials are used for the seats inside the vehicle: While hard in a normal state, electric pulses render the seating surfaces soft and comfortable. Thus, passengers can individually adjust their own seats.
Human beings with their own personal preferences are at the very centre of the design concept “Pleasant”. Driving autonomously, the MAN city bus communicates with its passengers. Before boarding, a passenger will record any special requirements in an app – which reads the names of stops to blind persons upon request. Is wheelchair space needed? Is assistance requested for boarding and dismounting? The bus assistant on board lends support to passengers, while the bus itself is also helping: Illuminated floor stripes guide passengers to their seats, which are already adjusted to the needs of fellow passengers and can even monitor their vital functions.
The “Travelmate” concept addresses all urbanites who wish for a day trip to surrounding nature areas. Large panoramic windows draw nature inside the bus and to the passengers, while a roof deck allows for 360-degree views. The bus is designed to stand by its passengers like a friend and adhere to their personal needs. Thus, seats can be adjusted ergonomically, with the option of saving the settings on a personal "Travelkey”. Guests can also use the Internet, record media and share it through a vehicle-specific cloud.
Passengers’ sports equipment and hiking gear are stored in a transport box. Upon arrival, the box pulls out lengthwise and creates a communications area with folding chairs and LED tables with hologram functionality.
Young, ambitious and career-minded travellers often have little time for holidays. The concept “Blind Travel” allows for brief escapes from daily routine. Guests do not know the destination of the one-day trips. There are two packages on offer: “Action & Fun” and “Zeit zu Zweit”, a trip for two. While the first package comprises tours with extreme sports and party offers, the second package presents culinary and cultural travel. The upper deck features a chill-out area with panoramic views and the lower level contains a board restaurant with dance floor.