2015 could be the year when the first steps towards a new era of electric cars were taken at the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University. Students from Lund are behind a new idea that they say will revolutionise the car market.
”What do we really need from a city car today? Safety. Sustainability. And a cool experience.”
This is how Lewis Horne introduces project Uniti. He is the founder of the project at Lund University which aims at making the electric car of the future.
Lewis Horne explains that Uniti will go against the tide at the car market and make the electric car of tomorrow smaller – and thus more energy effective. The prototype shows a car with space for only two persons.
But there are high ambitions for this small project. The team behind Uniti want to change the car industry and the idea of what a car can and needs to be.
Lewis Horne started working on the idea at the turn of the year and is now employed at LU Open, an innovation platform arranged by the University working to support various projects.
Since then, LTH student Martin Ascard has also gotten on board. And the project is off to a flying start. There are already plans for a first functioning prototype at the end of 2016, and it is getting clear what kind of project Uniti really is.
No revolutionising technology
But there is no revolutionising technology or ground breaking innovation behind their advances. Instead, logical thinking has been the key to success.
”We will not have the craziest technical specifications, but we question things. We question how people get around today and what we really need to move people inside a city”, Martin Ascard says, giving an example:
”There has to be a middle ground between a car weighing one and a half tonne and a bicycle weighing ten kilograms. We want to make a sustainable car, a light-weight car, with seats for two persons. In addition, the interaction between the physical and the visual will be completely different from what we see today.
Martin Ascard describes the car equipment as sci-fi inspired – among other things, the car will not have any pedals, but will have the capability of interacting with the driver’s phone.
Even if the physical prototype is scheduled to appear in a year, test drives of the car in a virtual reality is meant to be made possible at the start of next year.
”In January or February, you will be able to put on an Oculus Rift helmet which simulates the feeling of driving a Uniti yourself”, says Michael Bano, part of the Uniti team.
Global and local networks
Based in Lund, Uniti have also been looking at the global market for inspiration and cooperations. After an international conference in San Francisco, the project’s networks have expanded and a globe-encompassing group have been built around this exciting idea, Martin Ascard tells us.
”Apart from a group in Lund, there is a designer in Portugal, a person in India with extensive knowledge in materials, and Richard Lindberg in London with contacts in investment corporations. That was our core group from quite early on”, he says.
Several students from Lund contributing
In addition, the Uniti team want to utilise the competence that is available at home in Lund.
For that reason, they held a competition in Lund, where students and others who were interested could discuss and give input on the many challenges that the team are still facing. No ideas or solutions were too grand or excessive, which the participants appreciated.
”Seeing that this is sort of a visionary project, you are allowed to be free-thinking and not locked down by certain rules, which can sometimes happen”, says Albin Wilson, student at LTH, and his working team agrees.
Future contributions from students
In the long term, the idea is for Uniti to go public. Should that happen, Martin Ascard, who has a central, coordinating role in Uniti today, hopes that the openness will remain.
”We will invite other people and definitely let students partake in various ways. New talents that could grow and help develop Uniti. That, I think is very valuable”, Martin says, highlightning the need to be open and available.
”If we do things together and are transparent, we can really make a difference, and inspire others to start similar projects. It takes more than a car to make a change in society”, according to Martin Ascard.
Article: Robert Söderqvist
Translation: Carl-William Ersgård