Honda Provides a Glimpse into a Driverless Future with 3D Printed Model Cars

Mountain Climber - in contextThere are two kinds of people in the world: those who love a good road trip, and those who dread them. Many of us have a love/hate relationship with them. Road trips can be magical – beautiful scenery, good companionship, the excitement of driving off towards new places and new experiences. But then there are the cramped legs and stiff backs, the fatigue, the shady motel rooms, the stretches of road with nothing but cornfields and flatness for hundreds of miles.Then there are the harrowing landscapes, the tiny strips of road with a rock wall on one side and a chasm on the other, when you’re uncomfortably aware that any driver error could mean complete disaster.

That’s where the idea of autonomous cars is so intriguing. Not only could you sit back and watch the scenery go by as your car steers and directs itself across the country, but, if Honda is to be believed, those cars could also lift themselves over rocky obstacles, float across bodies of water, and transform themselves into luxury sleeping quarters. Those are just a few of the ideas presented in the new “Honda Great Journey” ad, an elaborate fantasy of what the road trips of the future could look like with autonomous cars. Take a look:

The imagined journey retraces the route of the earliest humans as theorized by anthropologists – a trip of over 22,000 miles from Kenya to Brazil. To illustrate the trip, Honda enlisted the services of London design studio Map, Japanese studio Mori, Inc., and English prototyping firm Ogle to create a video with seven miniature scale models of possible autonomous cars of the future. The cars lumber across dunes, float past Japanese islands, and even sprout legs to pick their way around rocks on a mountainside. It’s a dreamy, fantastical look at what, according to Honda, could be reality in the very near future.

Jungle Jumper - fully extendedThe model cars were created by Ogle, which specializes in 3D printed models and prototypes for industries including automotive, aerospace, medical and others. The company used their SLA machines to print the tiny, detailed pieces that would make up the model cars, which were then carefully assembled by the model-making team.

“The accuracy demanded of our people and machines was significant. To achieve the required paint finishes and component parts for the models, there was no room for error,” said Dave Bennion, Marketing and Sales Director for Ogle. “Each finish had to be executed to perfection, resulting in a seamless look when being filmed. We are extremely proud to have been selected to produce such intricate and unique models for such a household brand and were delighted to receive such positive feedback.

“Innovative solutions were sought throughout. For example, to create a hammock effect, a net finish was achieved by sourcing multiple net fabrics and lacquering the component parts, so that they were clear, before applying paint over the pattern of the fabric. A considerable amount of time was spent both in design and on the bench to create clearances for paint so that everything would fit and work after the parts had been painted.”

Jungle JumperSome of the small finishing touches were created by hand with stainless steel and copper wire, and the paint jobs required a unique, multi-step process that included the application of a guide coat of paint followed by sandblasting. The finished models were tested nearly as extensively as real vehicles would have been to make sure that they were balanced, strong enough to hold up in their miniaturized terrain, and that all parts were working properly.

The final effect is fascinating, and Honda is very serious when they say that the commercial isn’t just a fantasy – they intend to make these types of vehicles a reality sooner than you might think. The company plans to have driverless cars on the road by 2020, so the road trip as we know it may change very soon. No more getting lost, no more steering with one hand while waving at your friend in the backseat: “Hand me the Cheez-its! No, the CHEEZ-ITS!” Just sitting back, relaxing, and letting your car do the work for you while you admire the scenery.

ogle

Ogle’s model-making team

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