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July 26, 2021

Ford funding mobility idea feasibility

Automakers' sponsorship helps test the feasibility of ideas like this.

By Graeme Roberts

Design students Corentin Janel and Guillaume Innocenti won the Ford Fund Smart Mobility Challenge with a rideable bench called TOD or talk or drive.

This idea won them GBP12,500 towards turning the project into reality.

Organised by Ford Fund, the company’s corporate foundation and philanthropic arm, and the Royal College of Art, in the UK, students participating in the challenge came up with ideas that offer sustainable urban mobility and benefit people.

“A rideable bench is a great example of how design can help form the fabric of cities, as it’s something that’s fun, practical and multi-functional,” said Amko Leenarts, director of design, Ford of Europe. “It’s a clever way to make mobility part of the city, encourage people to interact and enable people to experience cities in a totally new way.”

TOD is designed as an adaptable system with a static mode and mobile mode. In static mode, it is a bench that can be extended to accommodate three people. Accessories such as chairs and corners can easily by added using a plug-in style kit system, while a flat square can be connected to two benches to form a picnic table.

In mobile mode, the sit-on scooter is for up to two people, with a maximum speed of 20 km/h. A hatch in the middle provides space for luggage, while stretching bands on the back and sides enable users to transport small and long items. Users can locate and book a bench or sit-on scooter using the dedicated app.

“Working on a full-scale prototype will enable us to fully understand the package and at the same time think about the materials, the process and the user experience,” said the winning designers.

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