CCAD partners with 99P Labs to reimagine the future of mobility

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What does the future of mobility look like? What role will CASE technologies—connected, autonomous, shared, and electric—play? 99P Labs, backed by Honda and The Ohio State University, has tapped creative thinkers at Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) to help answer those questions and envision a new future in which vehicles (not just cars) will become more accessible to more people, driving down the cost of transportation and improving efficiency.

For four semesters, students from CCAD’s Industrial Design program have been working to reimagine a shared mobility vehicle that fits the needs of three key customers: millennials, older adults, and rideshare service providers. The project began with design research, a comprehensive practice that allows designers to create objects and services that satisfy user needs. Students continue to draw from observational research with the
Central Ohio Transit Authority, interviews with Share, training from Age Friendly Columbus, and co-creation sessions with end-users to capture what is truly needed in a shared autonomous vehicle.

“The research CCAD students have done has been hands down more in depth, more thought out, and more thoroughly documented than we anticipated, proving that they can play in the transportation design space,” said Joan Smith, Associate Director of Mobility Innovation for 99P Labs. “They really immersed themselves in the culture. CCAD students have created a completely new vehicle concept positioned around the preferences, needs, and desires of our future customers. It is quite impressive.”


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After discovering the needs of users, CCAD students helped transform ideas into reality by producing thousands of sketches, material experiments, digital interfaces, and finally, full-scale concept models. Each model—called a “buck” in automotive design—is progressively refined through user testing and feedback. The team is now on its third full-scale buck, which will eventually incorporate a virtual reality component so that users can experience the model with visuals that approximate the environmental, material, and digital elements of the concept vehicle. By utilizing this mixed reality approach, users will be able to imagine the lighting, finishes, materials, windows, and signage of the proposed shared mobility vehicle.

“Through partnerships such as this, CCAD is providing valuable real-life experiences for students that will help them land internships and jobs,” said Tom Gattis, Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Industrial Design at CCAD. “Because of our size, we are able to pivot and make adjustments on the fly that many other schools can’t. I’m so impressed with the out-of-the-box thinking and solutions our students have presented to 99P Labs.”

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CCAD is one of four higher-ed institutions, including Ohio State, Carnegie Mellon University, and University of California, Berkeley, collaborating with 99P Labs through its Student Innovation Program. A total of 23 students, four faculty members, two staff members, and three CCAD alumni have been involved in the project so far. They have spent more than 800 in-class work hours working to drive the future of mobility. Over the summer, 13 CCAD students were hired as paid interns to accelerate the project. Students and faculty from CCAD’s Animation and Advertising & Graphic Design programs will join the project in spring 2021.

Will Moore (Industrial Design, 2020) was involved in the project for four semesters, serving as an integral member of the research and concept teams as well as producing video documentation of the project. For Moore, and the other CCAD students involved, the professional-level experience has been invaluable.

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“This was an amazing project to be a part of,” said Moore. “We were given the opportunity to both learn about and design for the future of mobility. Our team put in a great deal of work and showed up every day with passion. I can’t wait to see how this project evolves in the future.”

99P Labs is just one of the forward-thinking organizations CCAD partners with to co-create projects with the college’s expert faculty, talented students, and skilled alumni to solve the real-world challenges of today and tomorrow. Other partners have included Airstream, Cardinal Health, COSI, the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio, Pelotonia, and the VA Central Ohio Healthcare System.

Discover more Corporate & Community Partnerships. Learn more about CCAD’s Industrial Design, Animation, and Advertising & Graphic Design programs or apply here.

Photos; from top: 

CCAD student Matthew Erdmann (Industrial Design, 2021), left, shows 99P Labs representatives how the CCAD prototype works. Photo by Sarah Pfeifer (Photography, 2020).

CCAD concept sketches of the shared mobility vehicle. Photo by Sarah Pfeifer (Photography, 2020).

CCAD students Alexis Williams and Gage Holtz (both Industrial Design, 2022) collaborate remotely during a summer 2020 working session. Photo by CCAD Student Agency.

CCAD student Matthew Erdmann (Industrial Design, 2021) constructs an armature during a project working session during the summer of 2020. Photo by CCAD Student Agency.

CCAD students William Moore and Matthew Erdmann (both Industrial Design, 2021) present to leadership from 99P Labs. Photo by Sarah Pfeifer (Photography, 2020).