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Design students unveil future mobility concepts for rural communities

Mark Moran
26 June 2020
The JUSTABUS concept
The JUSTABUS concept


Creating innovative solutions to the travel problems facing those living in rural communities has been the focus of a design challenge set by the RAC Foundation and Royal Automobile Club to students at the Royal College of Art (RCA). Students on the Intelligent Mobility masters’ programme were asked to turn their attention away from visions of the future of the urban landscape to rural areas such as dormitory settlements, satellite towns and villages.

The commission recognised that whilst commuters might use mass transit options for the trunk of their commuting journey, they often face a ‘first-and-last-mile’ challenge in getting between home and the railway station. Other, non-commuters, might be making relatively short trips in places where public mass transit is not a viable option – even before COVID-19-induced social distancing – because the population is not large enough to generate enough demand, added to which are the environmental and road safety issues created by narrow streets and country lanes.

Amongst the concepts to emerge are:

  • JUSTABUS, an on-demand, self-driving bus that is just half the width of a car, making it ideal for those bespoke journeys along the narrowest of thoroughfares
  • Star Road, an interactive lighting system with pressure-sensitive pads that illuminate the pathway when people tread on them, cutting down on power usage and the blight of light pollution
  • WAYGO, a travel pod that can change in size depending on whether it is to carry one person or more.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The purpose of this challenge was never about creating near-market solutions – frankly the opposite. It was about asking the best and brightest transport designers of the future to allow their imaginations to roam freely, given their own expectations about where not just tech but other issues such as the whole-life sustainability of solutions might take us. But don’t be surprised to find a few years down the line that some of these concepts, however zany, are nearer to market than you and I might have believed.”

To download a copy of Future Mobility for Rural Communities click here

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