British design firm Layer has teamed up with Chinese new car manufacturer NIO to design an electric scooter that uses artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology to automatically take you on your favourite route.
The NIO Pal, which stands for "companion," is a "near future concept" that aims to alleviate the city's growing traffic problems by offering flexible, last mile travel. Pal is on display during Milan Design Week 2019, which runs from April 9 to 14.
Layer is great at designing for the future lifestyle experience, with Apple, Google, Nike and other brands among its customers. "We believe that the future is autonomous and sustainable and that it's important to create products that are more convenient -- products that don't inconvenience the planet," says Benjamin Hubert, the British designer and founder of Layer.
Hubert is one of the world's top ten emerging designers and has won many international Design awards such as Red Dot and IF Design.
"Pal is a near-future concept for flexible 'last mile' electric vehicles that address the growing congestion and population density in our cities and offer possible solutions to these challenges." He added.
Dubbed the "mobile platform", the Pal scooter uses an NIO smart AI system called Nomi to get used to drivers' routes over time and eventually be able to automatically take them to their destination.
Through a wireless Bluetooth headset, Pal can connect to the AI Nomi system via an app on a user's smartwatch or smartphone.
It can respond to simple voice commands and questions from the user, such as asking the system to perform some function, what is the best route, or how much power is left in the vehicle's battery.
"The vehicle is designed to express lifestyle values and sensibilities, rather than to create harmony between the way people think about home and the way they will travel in an obviously technology-driven language," Hubert said.
The chassis and steering column are made from graphene-coated carbon fibre, making the vehicle both strong and lightweight, and in turn easy to transport, as well as being more efficient in terms of energy usage.
Designed to fit in the boot of a small car, users can fold the scooter down into a more compact size to allow for easy transportation.
The modular battery powers the scooter and can be recharged at the charging station of any NIO model or at the user's home. If the journey requires more charge than a single battery offers, however, it can be swiftly swapped out for another.
This is not the first time Layer has delved deeply into the design of transportation. The studio recently developed a smart material surface for the economy class seats of Airbus, allowing passengers to use their phones to monitor seat conditions.