Germany’s ‘EO Smart Connecting Car 2’ Is the Future of Urban Driving

Let’s Put This Story into Reverse

EO1 unveiled in 2012 as the first prototype
EO1 unveiled in 2012 as the first prototype (Photo: PR Fotodesign)

There’s one known fact in the automotive world and that is “You can’t beat German engineering!” The EO Smart Connecting Car was first developed by engineers of the Robotics Innovation Center at DFKI Bremen and unveiled in the first quarter (Jan/Mar) of 2012. EO is Latin for – “I go”. Described as “A car that is extremely flexible, can change shapes, and adjusts to the current traffic conditions”, it was also seen as “the car that in the not too distant future will drive itself.” The then prototype was part of the “New Mobility in Rural Areas” project that focused on investigating the innovative technologies of electromobility’.

7 phresh facts from the 'Electromobility in Germany: Vision 2020 and Beyond'
7 phresh facts from the ‘Electromobility in Germany:
Vision 2020 and Beyond’

The “Not Too Distant Future” Has Arrived!

With just five years away from Germany’s 2020 through their “National Electromobility Development Plan” (Read more here…) it comes as no surprise that they’ve revealed the EO Smart Connecting Car 2 (EO2)! This version does everything they said they wanted to achieve for the future and is poised to become a revolutionary urban and lifestyle vehicle. Berlin is Europe’s third most popular city for tourist visits, just behind Paris and London (in that order).

Meet the EO Smart Connecting Car 2

Video: Dipl.-Inform Timo Birnschein, DFKI GmbH

Always being one who looked forward to prototyping, upgrades and movie sequels, the anticipation for any improvement and iteration of an idea or design is for something more exciting and dramatic than the last. The DFKI engineers did not disappoint and have unleashed a winner capable of steering the automotive world into the future. Here’s a snapshot of what the EO2 can do:

  • Double Ackermann axial actuation, drive by wire, and autonomy
  • Drive Mode: Turn on the spot – less stress, more safety, and easier access
  • Drive Mode: Drive sideways for easy parking without hasty maneuvers
  • Drive Mode: Folded for parking – still fully drivable with reduced speed
  • Turn within parking space to drive out forward – improves safety and usability

The EO2 is a dynamic micro-car capable of “growing” from approximately 1.6 (5’3”) to 2.1 metres (6’10”) in height and “shrinks” to roughly half a metre (1’8″) to a length of less than two metres (6’7″). Through its space saving design, the EO2 can facilitate a mechanical connection to other e-cars to form its “fittingly” dubbed “road train”. This definitely redefines some aspects of traditional carpooling, as well as what mass transit could look like within a decade.

A computer simulation of several EO1 prototypes in a so called “road train”
A computer animation of several EO1 prototypes in a so called “road train” (Video Still: DFKI GmbH and Source: Animation Labs)

You know those moments you get stuck crawling out of a narrow space in a parking garage? The EO2 solves this issue courtesy of spatially distributed drives. Then there are those drivers who spend 10 minutes or more of their mornings searching for available on-street parking. We also have those drivers who struggle with parallel parking; well fear not, the EO2 has specially designed axles allowing each of the four wheels to turn 90 degrees. It can basically mimic the movements of a crab. The EO2 comes in at a lightweight 750 kg skillfully maneuvering within a short distance, moving diagonally or raising each wheel separately.

EO2 with wheels that turn 90 degrees for easier parking into a tight spot
EO2 with wheels that turn 90 degrees for easier parking into a tight spot (Photo: Timo Birnschein, DFKI GmbH)

Presently, it has a top speed of about 65 km/h (or 40mph). Currently the EO2 can travel 50 to 70 kilometers (30 to 44 miles) on a single four-hour full charge of the 54V – LiFePo4 battery. The micro car prototype comes able to connect to charging stations, but is still some distance away from becoming road-legal. But with so many of the world’s major cities growing at a rapid rate and as economies continue to boom, more and more cars will be bought by consumers. The EO2 presents a timely solution for greener and cleaner urban transport. It’ll be interesting to see how soon this vehicle makes its way to market. If I had to guess, I’d say within another five years. I’ll be watching with enthusiasm.

Freitag Brothers Have Gone the Extra Thousand Miles to Make the Perfect “Green” Fabric

Today in my Do Good 365 series, you’ll meet two brothers disrupting the clothing industry by closing the loop on waste production and promoting reuse.

Freitag has made a name for themselves making products from old materials. Now they’ve created something that will help us look good and the environment feel great.

Meet the brothers, Daniel Freitag and and Markus Freitag
Meet the brothers, Daniel Freitag and and Markus Freitag

Social Enterprise, Solarbox repurposes London’s iconic red phone booths with ‘green’ tech

“Allo! Allo! This is London calling!” — Britain’s bright red phone booths have been repurposed and painted green. It’s one of the coolest ideas I’ve seen for what can almost be classified as relics. With the United Kingdom having approximately 83,100,000 mobile (smart) phones in use and a penetration of 62.2% in 2013, phone booth usage has declined.

Solarbox was founded by two young entrepreneurs and former students of the London School of Economics, Harold Craston and Kirsty Kenney in June 2013. It was funded by UnLtd, LSE Entrepreneurship and Siemens.

The social enterprise aims to transform “disused telephone boxes into free solar powered charging points” for smartphones. You heard correctly; it’s FREE! If you are wondering who will foot the bill for energy consumption, well remember it’s solar powered.

Solarbox’s business model revolves around partnering alongside established community (30%) and commercial-based businesses (70%) that will pay to advertise to users of the service. The ads are displayed on a tablet housed inside the booth. The founders have stated that they want to ensure advertisements are “short, fun and exciting”. Hopefully that means they are no longer than six seconds!

From a graphic designer’s perspective, I think they have a clean and simple logo that successfully communicates part of their goal. As an urban planner and entrepreneur, I am fascinated with what both Harold and Kirsty have done. In one go they have managed to promote upcycling, green technology, urban design, historical preservation, and social integration all with an old phone booth; impressive stuff.

The first solarbox was launched on October 1st, 2014 with plans to introduce another 10 throughout the London streets by the end of 2015. Solarbox will open every day of the year between the hours of 5:30am to 11:30pm. Of course, all the liability for charging your smartphone is on you if it gets damaged or stolen, so safety first.

Here’s a feature on the solarbox with its co-founders:

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Help Air Shepherd Drones Stop Elephant and Rhino Poaching

40,000 elephants and over 1,200 rhinos killed by poachers in a single year,” throughout Africa for their tusks and horns respectively.

Map showing number of elephants poached illegally between 2010 and 2012
Map showing number of elephants poached illegally between 2010 and 2012

Illegal poaching equates to $70 billion dollars a year. This is the single most reason it’s a growing problem driven by the greed, arrogance and ignorance in parts of Asia and Africa.

The "bloody" business of the illegal ivory trade from Africa to Asia
The “bloody” business of the illegal ivory trade from Africa to Asia

In a fight to eliminate poaching, Air Shepherd drones are trying to raise $500,000 via Indiegogo. [The campaign recently ended, but you can still donate via their initiative]

Air Shepherd team in the field helping to stop elephant and rhino poaching successfully in Africa by using drones
Air Shepherd team in the field helping to stop elephant and rhino poaching successfully in Africa by using drones

It’s a valiant effort that needs your monetary support to get them to their goal. Have a look for yourself and make a donation if you can.

To make a donation, just click

Donate directly to their drone initiative here,

Coca-Cola FM Amplifier Made from a Teen Magazine: TURN IT UP!

Watch demo video: JWT website

The goal of putting an advertisement in a magazine is to make money, not lose it. With that said, marketing a product or service doesn’t always require a mega budget (relatively speaking, of course). Sometimes all you need is a little creativity and capitalising on growing trends. In this instance, we see how analog and digital realms can come together to create something beautiful. Thanks to international advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson Brazil (JWT), the Coca-Cola App was launched using the famous teen magazine, Capricho.

Coca-Cola FM is an online entertainment platform that targets Latin American consumers with relevant music, video, live events, conversations, and social media-powered content. It was launched back in 2009 and is now available in 13 countries, providing “a 24/7 platform for teens to listen – and to be listened to”. Its problem — promoting its App.

Teens listening music
Teens listening music

According to a new eMarketer report, there will be 4.55 billion mobile users and 1.75 billion smartphone users worldwide this year. With smartphone ownership showing no end in sight and with the release of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, traditional outlets who built their business in print are always looking for ideas to stay relevant. In an age where many companies are moving towards going paperless, some countries are yet to get there.

Attached to the cover, the art allows readers to turn the magazine into an amplifier
Attached to the cover, the art allows readers to turn the magazine into an amplifier

So here’s what you had to do: 1. Roll up the magazine. 2. Pick up your smartphone. 3. Turn on the App. 4. Put your phone in the spot (cut-out). 5. Enjoy the MUSIC! How simple was that (even with the basic physics behind it)!!

Even simpler, the amplifier was a hit and has been seen by over a million people online not to mention featured on a myriad of blogs, websites and social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, thus increasing the Coca-Cola.FM App download by a whopping 400%! All it took was an investment of US$18,000 that translated into US$320,000 of FREE media. I’d tag this a success!!

Adventures “InDesign”: Creating a Promotional Booklet

InDesign CS5 copy

“A limitation is a limitation only because you’ve done nothing to move beyond it.” — S. Drowym

It’s been a while since my last blog and this time I want to write about my latest design adventure.

Last week, I was offered the opportunity to design a promotional booklet and gladly I accepted the job not realising that the best software to create said booklet would be Adobe InDesign. There was a rush on the project and the client would need to have it within three days. Now usually I’m always apprehensive about taking on these rushed jobs, but I jumped at the chance.

So back to Adobe InDesign, it’s stellar software and what it can create in terms of materials for print is beyond amazing. I knew that little fact, but I didn’t know the software. In the past I had attempted to use it, especially because I used Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop so often to create flyers, posters, programs, invitations, and such for clients.

What do you do when you’ve just accepted a job to design an 18-page promotional booklet, but you don’t know the software to execute that project? You tell yourself you can learn the software in 24 hours of course!! That’s the attitude I took, but half of the time I knew I was lying to myself to keep a steady head. Thankfully there are innumerous readings and tutorials online to get pointers and lessons from. I think my favourite might have said something about “InDesign 101” and “11 steps to learning InDesign”; not quoting them verbatim, but you get the idea.

To make a long story short, I decided my best approach would be to learn basic tips, study the commands of the software and make as many mistakes as I could. Ye olde “trial and error” (mostly the latter) never fails. I was able to teach myself how to use InDesign and successfully so, thus creating a really class act design for the promotional booklet. The design only took a mere 28 hours of my life. With so many moving parts, it’s no wonder the software is such a great tool to have. The best part is I just expanded my skill sets and can now take on design projects like creating ebooks, booklets, magazines, and newsletters.

Here’s one tutorial I’ll leave with you if you’ve been thinking about learning the basics of Adobe InDesign. It’s only 11 minutes long, but will impart a lot of good directions: Creating and Applying Master Pages in Adobe InDesign

Until we meet again! Keep designing!