LA Auto Show Design Challenge: When Vehicles Imitate Nature

Design studios were asked to mimic nature, drawing inspiration from ants and kangaroos for solutions to the transit problems of 2025

Grasshoppers, cranes, ants, kangaroos and the Los Angeles River provided some of the inspiration behind this year's Design Challenge at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

More Coverage: Green Car Finalists | LA Auto Show

The theme for the challenge was biomimicry -- using nature to solve human mobility problems in the year 2025.

Each year, the Design Challenge asks design studios from around the world to come up with ideas -- no matter how far-fetched -- for the future of personal transportation. Here's what this year's paticpants have to offer.

2013 Design Challenge Entries

KAC Motors R&D Center, Japan
JAC Motors' "HEFEI" entry stands for Harmonious Eco-Friendly Efficient Infrastructure. The idea is a mobility network inspired by the eco-system -- vehicles and the environment working together with a power grid that supports the entire system and automated traffic.

Mazda Design Americas, Japan
The rise of the machines means decreased driver involvement by 2025, so the Mazda Design Americas studio offered "AUTO ADAPT." Taking its cue from insects that adapt to their environments, the Mazda vehicle can go from full autonomous to manual. The system provides the excitement of actually driving a vehicle in an age of automation.

SAIC Motor, China
The Mobiliant design was inspired by ants. It's a single-seater for negotiating urban areas with design elements borrowed from an ant's body structure -- the vehicle's body is separated into three active parts, allowing it to react to road surfaces and conditions.

Qoros Auto, China
The Silk Road System is designed to make vehicles work in harmony. Mimicking ants that share food, vehicles with a surplus of energy can transmit energy to vehicles with low energy levels, making everyone productive and happy.

Subaru Global Design Team, Japan
Subaru's design team takes a leap forward with the "SUBA-ROO" system. It's a one-legged wearable mobility vehicle that mimics the jumps of a kangaroo, allowing the user to bound over trails, beaches, even buildings.

BMW Group DesignWorks, USA
LA's "forgotten waterways" provide the solution to the city's traffic congestion in 2025. "LA Subways," inspired by jelly fish, envisions a swarm of robotic vehicles using the concrete-walled LA River to move around the region -- just add water.

BMW Group DesignWorks, USA
S.E.E.D. stands for Sustainable Efficient Exploratory Device. Designers wanted a vehicle that could travel to and explore some of the planet's harshest environments, so they turned to maple seeds. The seeds use gravity, wind and other natural elements for mobility.

Changfeng Motor Corporation, China
The Los Angeles Bio Research Project uses a flexible hollow reed design in a spiral configuration that can contract and expand, taking its design from a grasshopper. It can jump, climb, swim and squeeze between narrow openings -- such as a grocery store parking space.

CALTY Design Research/Toyota Design Network, USA
The "e-grus" was inspired by the crane, capable of traveling long distances. The bird-brained design is the studio team's answer to increasing commute distances by 2025.


The Design LA will be selected by a panel of design experts at the LA Auto Show. The show at the Los Angeles Convention Center is scheduled for Nov. 22 to Dec. 1

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