Automotive

Hydrazine and AI feature in Michelin Design Challenge's futuristic cars

Hydrazine and AI feature in Mi...
Josh Gadomski's HydraCross is powered by hydrazine, a highly-flammable chemical
Josh Gadomski's HydraCross is powered by hydrazine, a highly-flammable chemical
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The ConverT was designed by Minwoo Jeon and Donghoom Nam, who suggest Le Mans might not be held at Circuit de la Sarthe in future
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The ConverT was designed by Minwoo Jeon and Donghoom Nam, who suggest Le Mans might not be held at Circuit de la Sarthe in future
Chirayu Shinde's Renault SunRun has electricity transmitted directly to it using focused microwaves
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Chirayu Shinde's Renault SunRun has electricity transmitted directly to it using focused microwaves
Turkish designer Emre M. Yazici envisions what Apple's first Le Mans racer might look like
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Turkish designer Emre M. Yazici envisions what Apple's first Le Mans racer might look like
Jeroen Claus and Fabian Brees' Telsa LMPE fits into a world where drivers charge by driving along an inductive pit road
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Jeroen Claus and Fabian Brees' Telsa LMPE fits into a world where drivers charge by driving along an inductive pit road
Nicolas Francisco Loyola  penned the Faraday Future Singularity, which draws its power from wireless radiowaves
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Nicolas Francisco Loyola  penned the Faraday Future Singularity, which draws its power from wireless radiowaves
Po-Sen Huang and Po-Yuan Huang think future Le Mans racers will be electric, with batteries to be swapped at pit stops
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Po-Sen Huang and Po-Yuan Huang think future Le Mans racers will be electric, with batteries to be swapped at pit stops
Martin Chatelier thinks the 2030 Mercedes Benz DTW will use an air-energy recovery system and 3D-printed tires
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Martin Chatelier thinks the 2030 Mercedes Benz DTW will use an air-energy recovery system and 3D-printed tires
Samuel Marquez Arango has imagined the Bugatti racer of the future with the Benoist
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Samuel Marquez Arango has imagined the Bugatti racer of the future with the Benoist
Andhika Dimas Dwiputra and Freksa Arista Ihsan think Audi's success at Le Mans will continue into 2030
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Andhika Dimas Dwiputra and Freksa Arista Ihsan think Audi's success at Le Mans will continue into 2030
The Audi NEO is designed with safety in mind, with a system to stop cars taking excursions off-road
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The Audi NEO is designed with safety in mind, with a system to stop cars taking excursions off-road
Josh Gadomski's HydraCross is powered by hydrazine, a highly-flammable chemical
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Josh Gadomski's HydraCross is powered by hydrazine, a highly-flammable chemical
Vladislav Semenov & Maria Ryadno suggest a 2030 Bugatti Le Mans racer would use spherical electric motors for instant torque 
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Vladislav Semenov & Maria Ryadno suggest a 2030 Bugatti Le Mans racer would use spherical electric motors for instant torque 
As one of the oldest marques in racing, plenty of designers have delivered their take on the Bentley racer of 2030
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As one of the oldest marques in racing, plenty of designers have delivered their take on the Bentley racer of 2030
This Australian Audi concept tilts around corners, and makes use of aeronautical aerodynamics principals
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This Australian Audi concept tilts around corners, and makes use of aeronautical aerodynamics principals
The tires on this Citroen concept change color as they wear, in an attempt to make it easier for spectators to understand in-race strategies 
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The tires on this Citroen concept change color as they wear, in an attempt to make it easier for spectators to understand in-race strategies 
Carlos Eduardo de Carvalho thinks conventional tires are a bit bland, and fitted his Embraer concept with 'wing wheels'
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Carlos Eduardo de Carvalho thinks conventional tires are a bit bland, and fitted his Embraer concept with 'wing wheels'
The Mercedes AMG NEURAURA is controlled by the driver's mind, rather than a steering wheel and pedals
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The Mercedes AMG NEURAURA is controlled by the driver's mind, rather than a steering wheel and pedals
This third-placed Cizeta has movable front wings
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This third-placed Cizeta has movable front wings
The Bentley Speed 9 concept blends an old-style front end with electric power
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The Bentley Speed 9 concept blends an old-style front end with electric power
The contest-winning Infiniti blends AI with human drivers
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The contest-winning Infiniti blends AI with human drivers
A look at the winning pitch from this year's Michelin Design Challenge
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A look at the winning pitch from this year's Michelin Design Challenge
A look at the winning pitch from this year's Michelin Design Challenge
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A look at the winning pitch from this year's Michelin Design Challenge
A look at the winning pitch from this year's Michelin Design Challenge
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A look at the winning pitch from this year's Michelin Design Challenge
A look at the third-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
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A look at the third-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
A look at the third-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
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A look at the third-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
A look at the third-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
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A look at the third-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
Even the racers of the future will need to stop in the pits
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Even the racers of the future will need to stop in the pits
A look at the third-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
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A look at the third-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
Bentley is one of the oldest marques in racing, but that doesn't mean its brand can't leap into 2030
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Bentley is one of the oldest marques in racing, but that doesn't mean its brand can't leap into 2030
The second-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
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The second-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
The second-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
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The second-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
The second-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
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The second-placed pitch in the Michelin Design Challenge 2016
View gallery - 32 images

Endurance racing is already full of fascinating approaches to making a prototype racer lap quickly, but if the Michelin Design Challenge is anything to go by, it's positively tame compared to the grid we can expect in 2030. The winners each take a different angle on what the Le Mans racer of the future will look like, using tech from artificial intelligence to tire-mounted batteries to gain an edge on the competition.

Winner: Tao Ni, Infiniti Le Mans 2030

The contest-winning Infiniti blends AI with human drivers
The contest-winning Infiniti blends AI with human drivers

The winning entry came from 26 year-old Tao Ni, from Wuhu, China. He likened motorsports to space exploration, and said Le Mans 2030 will be about challenging the limits of humans and technologies.

With that in mind, his creation melds human and artificial intelligence together. During the day, drivers are in charge of wrestling the Infiniti around Circuit de la Sarthe, but he suggests artificial intelligence should take over when night falls. Think of it as World Endurance Championship meets Roborace, wrapped up in a slinky silver body.

When the driver switches to artificial intelligence, the shape of the car also adjusts. In human-powered mode, the pod on the back of the car is open to let the driver see what's going on around them, but when the switch is made, the pod closes up for better aerodynamics.

Runner up: Daniel Bacelar Pereira, Bentley 9 Plus Michelin Battery Slick

The Bentley Speed 9 concept blends an old-style front end with electric power
The Bentley Speed 9 concept blends an old-style front end with electric power

Bentley has quite a history in motorsports, something reflected in the 9 Plus' brutish good looks. Designed by Spaniard Daniel Bacelar Pereira, it blends an old-fashioned wide-grille with an aerodynamically efficient slim cigar-shaped cockpit. According to Pereira, this shape is possible because the car doesn't need to house an internal-combustion engine.

Instead, the Bentley 9 Plus has been designed around the idea of making an electric car last a full 24-hour race without needing to stop and plug in. His solution? Batteries built into the tires. Rather than swapping batteries or worrying about expensive quick-charging solutions, Pereira's vision of the future looks very similar to the current reality of lightning-quick mid-race tire swaps.

Speaking of vision, there are no windows or windscreens built into the car's cabin. Instead, drivers are faced with a widescreen virtual reality display. According to the designer, this makes the cabin safer, and offers a wider field of view than conventional glass windscreens.

Third: Kurt Scanlan, Maserati Cierzo C1

This third-placed Cizeta has movable front wings
This third-placed Cizeta has movable front wings

Of all the concepts featured in the Michelin Design Challenge finals, Kurt Scanlan's design is the most dramatic. As well as looking incredible, the massive wings on the front of his design are functional, working to steer the car by directing moving air from side-to-side.

According to Scanlan, this system reduces wear on the brakes and tires, which would allow teams to run narrower (more efficient) tires and would create less downforce on the front end.

Along with its clever air-steering ailerons, the Cierzo C1 is fitted with an external telemetry display. A ring of LED lights around each of the wheels lets the crowd know when drivers are on the brakes, making it easy to tell which drivers are lifting early, and which are pushing things to the absolute limit.

These are just the top three, but there were 17 incredible designs deemed worthy of a mention by Michelin. You can check them out in the gallery.

Source: Michelin Design Competition

View gallery - 32 images
1 comment
Martin Hone
Hydrazine ? Don't think that old rocket fuel will get past the EPA somehow.