Toyota lets students create the car of the future



Toyota has teamed up with students of Southern California's Clemson University to design and build the next generation of transport.

Dubbed uBox, the madcap van is a concept that is designed to appeal to Generation Z - anyone born between the late 1990s and now - so packs a whole host of connectivity and personalisation options.
The official press release states that the typical customer for uBox is "a young entrepreneur who wants a vehicle that can provide utility and recreation on the weekend but that can also offer office space or other career-centric or lifestyle uses during the week."

Phew, we're not 100 per cent sure what that means but we do know it features an interior that can be moved and arranged for different purposes. A low floor allows for reconfigurable, removable seats on sliding tracks that can be stored to allow the loading of bulky items, such as bikes and boards.

Vents, dashboard display bezels and door trim can be personalised and made with 3-D printing technology at home, while an online community for owners exists so they can share design ideas.

Driving the machine is a compact, all-electric powertrain that is said to provide a 'fun driving experience' and 'emission-free stationary energy to power consumer electronics, power tools or other devices' via various 110-volt sockets located throughout the interior and exterior.

Toyota uBox

Toyota uBox

The car isn't slated for release; instead the Toyota collaboration - called Deep Orange - immerses students into every aspect of automotive development – from market research and design studies to engineering design and manufacturing.

"Deep Orange gives students' hands-on experience with the entire vehicle development process, from identifying the market opportunity through the vehicle build," says Johnell Brooks, an associate professor in Clemson's graduate engineering program.

"It's like automotive boot camp for the real world, and it wouldn't happen without industry partners like Toyota."