Benjamin Hubert of experience design agency LAYER has designed PAL, an intelligent mobile platform that embraces AI and machine learning to offer flexible and convenient “last mile” travel, for Chinese electric vehicle company NIO. Various PAL accessories – bag, basket, and shopping cart – can be affixed to the front of PAL to cater to the user’s lifestyle and changing needs. PAL is a near-future concept and has been shown at Salone del Mobile in Milan.
NIO PAL is a smart modular personal transport system with a range of accessories that provide flexibility and ease of travel during the last mile of a user’s journey. These luggage accessories – bag, basket, shopping trolley – can be attached to a fixing panel on the steering column of the intelligent, autonomous vehicle depending on a user’s needs.
PAL is powered by modular electric battery power source, and can be recharged in the trunk of any NIO automobile or at home. If the journey requires more charge than a single battery offers, it can be conveniently swapped out. The vehicle folds up and can be wheeled, making it easy to take from outside to inside, and has been designed to fit in the boot of a small car.
PAL is controlled via a wireless bluetooth earpiece that connects to NIO’s NOMI system via a smartwatch or phone app. NOMI is an artificially-intelligent digital companion which learns its driver’s self-interests and information to meet their needs.
Through NOMI, PAL uses machine learning to become accustomed to a user’s routes over time and, eventually, become autonomous. It also responds to simple voice commands and requests, such as “What’s the best route?”, “Take me to work” or “How much battery is left?”
PAL has pressure sensitive suspension for “lean steering” – the user leans forward to increase speed, back to decrease speed, and carves left or right to turn. Individual motors in each front wheel hub enable independent “wheel speed” steering, in which the wheel speed varies to turn the vehicle.
The NIO PAL chassis and steering column are made from graphene-coated carbon fibre, an exceptionally strong and lightweight combination of materials that makes the vehicle both easy to transport and more efficient in terms of energy use.
“At LAYER, we believe that the future is autonomous and sustainable, and it is important to create products that offer more convenience without inconveniencing the planet. PAL is a near-future concept for a nimble “last-mile” electric vehicle that addresses the growing congestion and population density of our cities and offers a possible solution to these challenges. The vehicle has been designed to express lifestyle values and sensibilities, rather than with an overtly tech-driven language, creating harmony between the way people think about their home and transport in the future.” – Benjamin Hubert, Founder LAYER
Design, info and images © LAYER