Automobiles undergoing the greatest transformation—attention to Last One Mile Mobility, which lies at the heart of the transformation
During the screening process of this year’s Good Design Award, I encountered many items that made me think “yes, our society has been waiting for just this!”, while there certainly were a number of orthodox-types of well-designed items as if self-asserting “how About this?” Design Movement on Campus, Taiwan’s education program by which both teachers and students are involved in the designing process, and BRING by which used garments are collected and recycled are examples that many people would wholeheartedly welcome.
However, there also were venturous entries which have not yet established a reputation though strive to indicate a future direction. For example, TOYOTA LQ by Toyota Motor Corporation. It was difficult to appraise the car positively in the screening, because it was entered as a concept car. However, the vision in this car is clearly indicating the future automobile society that the company endeavors to achieve.
The history of automobiles, which dates back About 100 years, is facing great change at the moment. This change is mainly lead by attention to Last One Mile Mobility, which is less mobile than an automobile or train, but has more mobility than walking.
Last One Mile Mobility should be introduced immediately as a transportation option for elderly people living in remote areas in the mountains. At the same time, it is important in terms of management and sustainability. As represented by 2019 entries GACHA, a self-driving bus by Ryohin Keikaku, and Choisoko, a shared transportation system, each company is working on this challenge in a competitive manner, creating a positive movement. One Mile Mobility is still in the transitional period of its development, but it is one of the most important subjects of our times along with welfare and the environment.
However, frankly speaking, Japan is less advanced compared to Europe. The new Citroën Ami, which was released by Renault in February 2020, is a car-sharing vehicle that can be driven by any French national over the age of 14 without a driving license. This is a huge national commitment, and the designing process even involves a stage of lawmaking.
On the other hand, the designing process in the Japanese mobility industry still remains at the level of shaping. In order to expand its possibilities, it is necessary to approach it from other aspects such as public systems and legislation. In this sense, Taiwan’s commitment to renovate the public system itself and China’s noticeable ability to create HONGJI Stone, a bicycle designed from molds taking global business into consideration, are outstanding.
However, it is a significant step forward for Japan that Tokyo Metropolitan Government COVID-19 The Information Website, an entry made by the government, has received an award this time. This website has caused a stir in the future relationship between Japanese public systems and design, as it is highly flexible, having room for improvement in prior, and being available for other municipalities. We designers should be involved in lawmaking and public administration. Through the screening, I felt that the expansion of the various attempts has been complexly incorporated into “design for expanding relationships”, the theme I have upheld.
How to share wisdom and innovative ideas to expand relationships between people
In my work, which is mainly designing vehicles, a composite design focusing on a connection between people and communities is required. How can we share wisdom and innovative ideas to expand relationships between people in a world of decreasing population due to the declining birthrates? There is no other way but designing by seeking the answer for this question.
However, the right solution is yet to be found, and there only are some tips scattered around at the moment. What I would like to introduce lastly is a tuna longline fishing boat Shofuku Maru No. 1 from Kesennuma.
Kesennuma incurred significant damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake. This boat is a product of the encounter of two people, a CEO of a fishery company and a designer, during the time of disaster reconstruction. The deep-sea fishing industry is now facing a severe shortage in labor, having difficulty in recruiting crews on bonito boats and tuna boats.
As you know, the demand for high-quality fish is increasing globally, and consequently, the competitive strength of Japan is declining. Therefore, they designed a fishing boat which is easy to work and comfortable to live in, so that crews can be proud of working in the fishing industry.
Not limited to tuna boats, all areas involving vessels are troubled by the shortage and aging of workers. Even though they obtain young workers, a generation gap between aged workers with experience and young workers is accelerating a loss of community. This item showed a practical example of what design can do to solve such a situation, and that is the reason why I have a high opinion of it. I would like to support the expansion of such relationships.
- plan [Design Movement on Campus]Introduces design to transform campus and enhance aesthetics. The advisory team guides principals, teachers, and students to discover aesthetic issues, identify needs, and set goals, and match them with design teams of different expertise, which will adopt strategies of "subtraction design," " spatial reconstruction," and" duplicability," for facilities, functionalities, and spaces.
- Circular Economy [BRING]BRING is a Direct to Consumer business platform based on a circular economy. It sells clothes made of recycled polyester as well as it collects abandoned garments from consumers to produce the raw material. BRING covers a broad rage of industries such as raw material production, spinning, retail and recycling. It provides raw materials, yarns, textiles and its business platform to partners.
- Passenger car TOYOTA LQA concept car that represents a beloved car in the new era, recognizing advanced technologies such as AI as new technologies to care for people. With the onboard AI agent, which was developed in cooperation with TRI in the USA, who researches and develops technologies applying AI, and self-driving technology, it provides a future driving experience (demonstration on public roads) where a car becomes an invaluable partner of a human by understanding humans and improving itself.
- Personal bicycle [HONGJI Stone]A 20-inch shaft-drive-type electric-assisted bicycle for young people, which is suitable for short-distance travel in an urban area. Foldable with an intelligence function.
- Website [COVID-19 The Information Website]This website was established by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to promptly deliver accurate information related to the novel coronavirus to the people of Tokyo. The site is a one-stop source for a variety of information and data related to measures to combat COVID-19. The use of open source code has also made it possible for other local governments to implement similar initiatives .
- Tuna longline fishing boat Shofuku Maru No.1Shofuku Maru No. 1, a deep-sea longline fishing boat for tuna, was built under the concept of “an attractive fishing boat that brings people together”. The next-generation fishing vessel is designed to operate safely even in the open seas of the world and to prioritize the crew’s long seafaring life to be as comfortable as possible.