Throughout the research and concept design process, we tried to unpack the meaning of the five keywords (mobility, ownership, relationship, personalisation, hospitality) that emerged at the beginning of the project. We combined service design and vehicle interior design into our concept design phase and conceived new design opportunities around shared vehicle spaces and related services. We gained in-depth knowledge about the benefits and concerns around sharing vehicles, potential sharing scenarios and behavioural patterns. Potential shared mobility users’ requirements are repeatedly ‘privacy’, ‘safety’, ‘space’, ‘communication’ and ‘economic’. Through our concept design process, we identified design briefs that focus on improving users’ trust in shared vehicle services by offering choices to enable them to use the shared space comfortably. Further research may be needed such as testing concepts in order to prove feasibility if any concepts are to be developed into real world solutions; building prototypes to refine functions, materials, space designs or to improve user-vehicle interactions in detail; exploring business opportunities of the design concepts by communicating with industry partners. 

Research topics for further exploration based on the results of the project can be grouped into four innovation opportunities: mini sharing mobility spaces, comfortable spaces for multi-modal communities, personal premium workspaces, and multi-use family vehicle/living space. For example:

  • Mini shared mobility spaces

Further research into natural personal interfaces to allow individuals to contact service operators or report security issues, and seating materials that allow users to arrange the separation of space and to interact or disconnect with other passengers needs exploration. 

  • Comfortable spaces for multi-modal communities

More design attention should be given to consider both single and group travellers and their choices around keeping the space private or being able to interact socially. Allowing shared mobility users be able to rearrange the vehicle space according to their physical and emotional needs has significant design potential.

  • Personal premium workspaces

Our research found that most shared mobility users would prefer to be able to customise in-vehicle spaces according to the purpose of their journey, the nature of activities they wish to undertake on the move and their mood at the time. We created a concept design for a premium workspace on the move as an example, but there are many design opportunities for other scenarios. More inclusive designs can be explored when considering lower cost journeys and provision for disabled or elderly users.

  • Multi-use family vehicle/living space

Sharing vehicles with family, acquaintances and neighbourhood communities is an area that has often received attention but, to date, has not resulted in any successful business models. By embedding design thinking when exploring suitable services and business models, more innovation is expected to be seen especially for shared vehicles or when sharing vehicle spaces with someone that people know and trust. 

This research set out to explore novel innovations and to develop design examples for future shared mobility. The research and concept design was focused on interior design and relevant services available for individual users’ activities before, during and after using the shared vehicle spaces. The major contribution of the results is to create a holistic view for vehicle designs and vehicle services to be developed within a brand ecosystem with potential to integrate other transport modes and customised services. Vehicle design blends seamlessly into service design. This project is intended to show that in-vehicle space design is not a standalone process, it is responsible for a critical part of an entire journey experience for users, therefore it should be considered along with elements such as other transport modes before and after the shared journey, trip monitoring services that can ensure a safe and comfortable journey, trip management tools for users that allows appropriate ratings to be awarded and reviewed, and many more.

< Previous Chapter: Design Concepts (spareVROOM)

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Research Team and Acknowledgement

The MORPH core research team includes Dr. Jiayu Wu, Dr. Sheila Clark, Ashley Kennard, Daniel Quinlan, Katrine Hesseldahl and Sam Johnson. The service designers are Hyojin Bae and Nayoon Lee. The concept designers are Patryk Musielak (NANO), YoungJae Kim (MOSEY), Jiaheng Wei (ENROUTE) and Dinesh Raman (SPAREVROOM). 

MORPH was sponsored by Hyundai-Kia. The financial support enabled the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre of the Royal College of Art to conceive and explore new areas in transport experiences, vehicle design, digital technology integration, mobility systems and other research topics. We would like to thank Hyundai Motor’s German and Korean offices for their involvement in feedback and review during the research.

Special thanks to Dr. Cyriel Diels, Professor Stephen Boyd Davis and Professor Dale Harrow for reviewing and providing feedback during the research and for the final report.

Finally a special thank you to William Renel for designing the MORPH website, Jane Savory, Hannah Adeuya and Lulu Ishaq for managing the finance and logistics.

Launched in 2016 at the Royal College of Art, the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre (IMDC) leads research at the intersection of people, mobility and technology within a complex and changing urban and global environment.

The Royal College of Art is ranked the No. 1 art and design university by the QS World University Rankings, 2021.

© 2021 Royal College of Art