One of the important events that happens at the LA Auto Show that we are all excited about is the Los Angeles Design Challenge, an annual competition at the LA Auto Show that provides up-and-coming designers with the opportunity to collaborate with an automaker to design a futuristic concept vehicle using a few set requirements. This year, the theme of the challenge is to build a safe and comfortable 2+2 compact car that comes with excellent handling and cutting-edge design and weighs in at no more than 1,000 lbs.
This concept comes from Mercedes-Benz, which, incidentally, was built not far from Los Angeles at the company’s US design headquarters in Carlsbad, California. The vehicle is called the Biome Concept and is described as a vehicle that “grows in a completely organic environment from seeds sown in a nursery”. In layman’s terms, the Biome Concept is pretty much an organic hybrid that was created in complete symbiosis with nature, producing its own oxygen and contributing to the improvement of air quality.
UPDATE 11/26/2010: When the designs for the Los Angeles Design Challenge were entered, no one really expected any of them to see production, but, according to Autocar, Mercedes is looking into using the BIOME Concept as the inspiration for their mid-engined supercar. Mercedes is planning on revealing the concept vehicle in 2015 as a competitor to BMW’s Vision EfficientDynamics’ eco-supercar.
Now, we don’t expect the production version to follow the same path as the concept’s creation – nobody’s silly enough to believe that Mercedes can grow the production version from “seeds” as how the concept is supposedly born – but according to Hubert Lee, the man heading Mercedes’ California design studio where the BIOME was conceptualized, certain elements of the concept could be translated to the production version. “We were conscious during its development to ensure it wasn’t too limited or edgy,” he said.
“It had to be do-able without any significant changes.”
Full details and press release after the jump
The Greener Workings of the Biome
The Biome is made from BioFibre, a material that’s significantly lighter – the concept weighs 875 lbs, well short of the competition’s 1,000-pound limit - than either plastic or metal yet supposedly is stronger than steel. According to Mercedes, BioFibre is grown from proprietary DNA that is the company’s nursery, where it gathers the sun’s energy and and stores it in a liquid chemical bond called ‘BioNectar4535’. The BioNectar4535 powers the Biome where it is housed in the vehicles chassis, interior, and wheels. Apart from the BioNectar4535, Mercedes engineers have also worked on the idea of installing receptors on trees that, if used properly, could transform its own amount of energy taken directly from the sun into the car. And here’s another unique thing about the Biome: at the end of its life, the car is fully capable of composting and thus, can be used as its own building material.
Exterior and Interior
In the interest of playing to your fantasies, the Biome concept looks stunningly like nothing we’ve ever seen.The whole structure is completely out of the Jetsons with a nose that looks like a plane and wheels resembling those of its turbines. As for the interior, the 2+2 seating arrangement comes in the shape of a diamond with the driver seating in the middle up front with two passengers just behind him on either side and another one at the back.
Though it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see a car like this in the near future – maybe ever – it does give us a look at the idea of what a totally green vehicle should be, which is in contrast with how we describe cars these days.
At this year’s Los Angeles Design Challenge, the designers from the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studios in Carlsbad, California, surprised everyone with a revolutionary vision. Taking their inspiration from nature, they designed a vehicle which is fully integrated into the ecosystem, from the moment of its creation right through to the end of its service life. The Mercedes-Benz BIOME grows in a completely organic environment from seeds sown in a nursery. Out on the road the car emits pure oxygen, and at the end of its lifespan it can be simply composted or used as building material.
"As the inventor of the motor car, we wanted to illustrate the vision of the perfect vehicle of the future, which is created and functions in complete symbiosis with nature. The Mercedes-Benz BIOME is a natural technology hybrid, and forms part of our earth’s ecosystem. It grows and thrives like the leaves on a tree" according to Hubert Lee, Head of the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Studios in Carlsbad. This year the competition had called for the creation of a vision of a safe and comfortable 2+2 compact car featuring good handling and a first-class design, and weighing only 1,000 lbs (around 454 kg/kerb weight).
Mercedes-Benz symbiosis – a partnership with nature
The Mercedes-Benz BIOME symbiosis vehicle is made from an ultralight material called BioFibre and tips the scales at just 875.5 lbs (around 394 kg). This material is significantly lighter than metal or plastic, yet more robust than steel. BioFibre is grown from proprietary DNA in the Mercedes-Benz nursery, where it collects energy from the sun and stores it in a liquid chemical bond called BioNectar4534. As part of this process, the vehicle is created from two seeds: The interior of the BIOME grows from the DNA in the Mercedes star on the front of the vehicle, while the exterior grows from the star on the rear. To accommodate specific customer requirements, the Mercedes star is genetically engineered in each case, and the vehicle "grows" when the genetic code is combined with the seed capsule. The wheels are grown from four separate seeds.
The Mercedes-Benz BIOME is powered by BioNectar4534, which is stored in the BioFibre material of the chassis, interior, and wheels. In addition, Mercedes-Benz has developed a technology to equip trees with special receptors which can collect the excess solar energy and turn it into BioNectar4534. This creates a direct link with nature’s energy sources and acts as an incentive to cover mobility energy requirements through more trees and at the same time maintain natural resources. Like plants, the Mercedes-Benz symbiosis vehicle also produces oxygen, thereby contributing to improving air quality. At the end of its service life, the Mercedes-Benz BIOME can be fully composted or used as building material. Thanks to the exclusive use of green technologies, the BIOME vehicle thus blends seamlessly into the ecosystem.