Autonomobile by Mike + Maaike



San Francisco industrial designers Mike + Maaike have proposed a self-driving electric passenger vehicle that they claim heralds "the end of driving".


The Autonomobile (ATNMBL) is a concept car is designed around passenger, rather than driver, experience with architectural styling, a lounge-like interior and fully glazed sides.


Mike + Maaike also designed the G1 Google phone. See our story here.


More on this project, including project sketches and design thinking, over at Here's some text from Mike + Maaike:


The End of Driving.

We always wanted to design a car, it just never felt right. The current climate gave us the final push--with the car industry lost, an urgent focus on global warming, awareness of oil dependency, and the economic down turn, the stars have aligned. It is time to sow seeds, to experiment.


Armed with a small design studio, we set out to design a concept car which questions current obsessions of speed, styling and driving in search of an optimistic new future. And it quickly became clear to us:

A shift must take place from styling cars to redefining them.


Speed has been the driving factor for car design, styling, and engineering for a century.  Most vehicles on the road today are capable of reaching 120 mph yet they are mostly used at moderate speeds and sitting in traffic.  It’s time to look at performance in a new way.  Our vision is a new focus on quality of time while in traffic and transit. Dismissing the need for extreme MPH and acceleration as irrelevant, performance can be measured by time savings instead.


Driverless cars, once a fantasy requiring new roads and infrastructure, are now technologically possible, even inevitable. GPS, sophisticated sensors, and navigation databases will allow driverless vehicles to operate on the same roads we have today.


The shift from a driving infrastructure to a riding infrastructure has deep implications for society, yet it is currently being defined almost exclusively by engineers and the military. Positive design visions are desperately needed if this technology (and other robotic technology) is to have a positive impact on society.


The Autonomobile

ATNMBL is our vision of a concept car for 2040 that represents the end of driving. Upon entering ATNMBL, passengers are presented with the question: "Where can I take you?". There is no steering wheel, brake pedal or drivers seat. ATNMBL drives by itself.


About the size of that parking space you couldn't fit into, electric powered with wrap-around seating for seven, ATNMBL offers living comfort, views, conversations, entertainment, and social connectedness. The vehicle is designed from the inside out with elements influenced by architecture and domestic interior spaces.


From the outside, ATNMBL looks like micro-architecture. Large windows, a pitched roof and asymmetrical from every view, it is designed without any reference to automobiles of the past. In contrast to today's automobiles, where much of the car's space is reserved for engine and drive train, ATNMBL's mechanical components are densely packed and simplified, providing dramatically more interior space in a vehicle that is shorter than most cars on the road today.


Electric motors in each wheel provide all-wheel drive. Electric power is stored underneath the seating and floor with additional power provided by solar panels on the roof. Within a gridded pattern on the front and rear is an array of headlights, tail lights and sensors.


Passengers enter ATNMBL from the curb side through an electric glass sliding door into a standing-height entryway.  Inside, the seating arrangement is a direct reference to the familiar living-room setting of a couch, side chair and low table.  Riders are oriented towards each other and to the view outside through the large floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides. Centrally oriented is a large flat display that features live trip information, maps, and entertainment.


The display can slide up to reveal a bar behind. A new and comprehensive sense of control is introduced through voice recognition and a touch screen remote control (or one's personal phone), offering riders a wide range of trip planning, ride sharing and performance settings that can be very detailed for those who want elaborate control or extremely simple for those who would rather just relax and enjoy the ride.


Summary of Features:
• fully electric powered plus solar assist
• driverless navigation via GPS, Lidar, radar, stereo camera, accelerometers
• wrap-around seating for 7
• voice recognition and remote for real-time control/ input
• large display for info, searches, browsing, communication
• open-source software with downloadable apps for carpool and carshare through social networking, pre-loaded trips, city tours, virtual drivers, etc.
• live trip info on mini display
• electric door, standing height entryway
• all wheel drive with motors in each wheel
• very few mechanical parts (drive by wire)
• bar

The list of life-enriching benefits is long: accessibility for young, old, and disabled (no drivers licenses), no searching for parking (it will drop you off and park itself), fewer cars will serve more people, less energy use, people will save hours each day (think autonomous check-ups and grocery pickups). Most importantly, there will be far fewer fatalities and there will always be a designated driver.


About Mike and Maaike

Mike and Maaike is an industrial design studio that takes an experimental approach to design, creating progressive solutions for high and low tech products, furniture, wearables, environments, and vehicles. Maaike Evers is Dutch; Mike Simonian, Californian.  Their distinct backgrounds and unique approach create strong conceptual foundations and a clear point of view. Equally inspired by the tradition of craft and the potential of industry, Mike and Maaike have designed and developed complex high-tech products as well as artful and personal objects.

The studio, which has received recognition and awards from design publications and museums around the world, is based in San Francisco. Mike and Maaike partner with people, organizations and companies who value an informed, experimental approach to design and the unexpected results it brings.  They recently collaborated with Google to develop Android-based smart phones

Posted on Saturday July 4th 2009 at 12:01 am by Brad Turner. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Small wheels will be perfect for a terrible ride. It also will be terrible aerodynamically, which will cripple efficiency needed for an electric vehicle. They've designed a room with "architectural styling" and shopping trolley wheels. If you're designing transportation that is transportation from scratch, this is not a good place to start.

  • Tristan

    Too radical to be literally placed on the road, but I guess that’s the point of a concept. Successful in redesigning and rethinking the idea of a car. Seems more likely that mercedes benz will be incorporating these technologies into their next, identically conventional car, but still an awesome idea.

    Playing devil’s advocate a bit: Seatbelts? Airbags? Goodluck trying to get a Jaguar driver to buy into a car that doesn’t go 120mph.

  • Absolutely fantastic, and while the tech may not fully be there yet . Or at least not bulletproof enough to rely on 100%, the dreaming and innovation behind their ideas hopefully holds limitless potential for the future.

  • Marcus

    Finally a car that looks worse than the prius!

  • This scares me a little… the whole iRobot movie ruined the future for me. Although, there is no saying of mph on this? If it traveled at around 40mph or so, I will feel comfortable in it.

    Also, I don’t think the “I am in a hurry” choice should be available, unless it is an emergency… I can just see everyone pushing this button and this atnmbl going into the trash. Just delete the button altogether – I mean, geez, if we don’t have to worry about driving, and have a “hurry” button, that will make future life more lazy and staggering. Instead, since time efficiency is the whole idea around this right? People should be able to be ready at a certain time, to get to wherever they need to be.. If not, they are late. That is that. The “hurry” button is just not needed.

    And if it IS an emergency, maybe have a code that when you push 911, it alerts 911 and calls them too? Or something. I’m not an engineer, at least not a car engineer.

  • The design is simple, and beautiful. I love the ideas that this concept makes possible. The idea of automobile travel being passive, rather than active, of the journey being as important as the goal, and of travel being a social event rather than a form of isolation… But it would be a long time before I trusted a car to drive itself, and I can have a passive, scenic, and social commute today if I want to… They’re called buses, and trains. I do really like this project though.

  • Zarko

    this is really innovative design!

  • Anupriya Subbian

    This idea is fantastic! When is it going into production?? :D

  • Graeme

    i have seen the future and its a sofa in a fishtank

  • sk

    ja klar!

  • M

    almost as unconvincing as the G1 google phone

  • mattes

    good presentation! great renders!.. but it’s not even science fiction..
    it’s just a little room with wheels and practical mess.

    ever thought of physical forces. turning left will make people sitting sidewards stand up!… same with accelleration..
    Where’s the engine/battary/fueltank????? or is it jus for going straight down the hill ?
    and what about the main idea? what sort of time you wanna save sitting on a sofa?

    as I sad: great looking pics..

  • shreyank

    that’s y they say…. dont watch so many movies u end up doing already that’s shown in the movies…. sigh…!!!

    the designer has a good hand though on the design… u guys can do much better i believe…

  • tommi

    doesnt work in water then?

  • Stephen

    Congrats Mike & Maaike! I sincerely appreciate the conceptual innovative thinking. Design needs to be more visionary, especially the automotive industry, and this is a step in the right direction. In fact, considering automobile travel destroyed rail travel in this country, there are a lot of experiential similarities to train travel in your concept. It’s ironically the future. No client required. Bravo!

  • thewaynesky3000

    Easily the dumbest thing I’ve seen on this website.

  • For commuting, I’d much rather be reading a book having a martini than inching forward, shifting back and forth between 1st and 2nd for 2hrs a day. If you’ve ever been stuck in Los Angeles rush hour, you’d understand. I’d gladly save the 911 for the track and weekends.

  • David Walker

    It is such a great metaphor for the state of design,and society.If you are in this thing,you can only see where you are and what you are passing through.Not where you have been-and certainly not where you are going

  • Hmm, I’m not exactly sure what problem this design solves. Does it require less energy to run? Less dependence on foreign oil? Minimize chances of accidents? Better for the environment? Perhaps. But in a world looking at least doubling its population in the next 20-40 years, “boxes” that comfortably seat 2-4 occupants are still impractical. Part of the car’s detriment to the environment goes beyond oil – but in the sheer space it consumes – in roadway space, parking requirements, etc. Interesting work, but sorry, I’m not really convinced that this will herald in a new era in transportation.

  • Guido

    There are people that take pleasure in drving..

  • William Smith

    It is obvious from the first rendering onwards that this “automobile” was created on the ideological whim of a designer who knows next to nothing about vehicles. The big glass walls idea? Fail. Car designers learned years ago that glass walls are the most unsafe thing you could build into a car.

    Tristan apologized for being the devils advocate. I think he shouldnt. This concept is ABOUT facing the true needs of the future car. All those “little things” are indeed very important to the whole. This car is unsafe, most likely slow judging by the wheel base (GM already has a better design with the “Skateboard”) has poor composition form wise and is completely not aerodynamic. These ideas put forward here have been put forward before. This is nothing new. Instead just a designer trying to make a scene.

  • Rob

    a wing mirror with wheels

  • one

    evilgenius Says: …

    I agree with your question. I rather think that this proposes a new problem to be solved. I guess this is indeed casting an issue to us rather than offering a solution.

    Congestion can be solved by the public transport. Therefore it is rather important to renew our idea on the vehicle for the public transport. YES.

  • geniecheng

    Isn’t this Core77’s July feature article? Why is there no mention of this anywhere? It looks like the article is a full scrape from their site.

  • You must be kidding. A living room on wheels. This thing would have to travel slower than a bicycle to be safe which would increase commute time rather than decrease it.

  • Zorko (futurist/visionair)

    This kind of ”automated cars” can already be seen in that funny Woody Allen movie :”Sleeper”(1974) – Only in this sci-fi-comedy there are no windows to look trough, but the whole car looks like a kind of white frosted ”pod’.. For comment on the M&M ‘pod’-design: I also see the flaws of the smalll wheels in the Maaike & Mike-design ..they should be larger in size.. Aswell I see the ‘danger-problem’ of too much glass in such cars,but the windows should be at least be different in construction for safety reasons with higher speeds..They need some special ‘bumping-buffers’ so passengers won’t hurt themselves, by standing up, or with different bodymovements..In the future this kind of transport also needs a different approach, concerning it’s driving-routes..These routes need at be a very constant kind of guided safety-road or special transparent tunnel-system (above or underground )..Maybe it is also a smart idea ,to make real -”For Rent” ”Sleeper-sitting’cells”(you can also sleep in it ) for individuals, aswell for at least a double one for couples,or ”Bus-size”-types, suited for larger groups..For example these special ”travel-pods” in different sizes for example should all have special toilet-unit(s) with running water..It’s a nessasary comfort for all ”on the road” purposes when the passenger can not leave the car,because of its ‘travelling-speed’ on a certain given moment..strange luxuries you can not find in your avarage 4-seater cars of today..( Only the Big buses or Camper-vans make the exeption for passengers ,but then, not for the driver behind the wheel .. ) It could be very social and affordable travelsystem of the future when it is totally perfected to its features and (social) possibillities..It should be completely and ‘f’ully automated’ ,but ‘demandable’ .. For example : every induvidual passenger,or group should have the possibility to go out of the ”pod-car-system” to have a certain break outside the car …On long trips it is surely a neccessity to avoid eventual ”claustrofobia”- situations…Future ‘pod-cars; all to be runned on total renewable and eco-friendly energy scources should, and could be a big success.. Maybe than it will be the best way of ‘car-travelling’ that we have ever expierenced… Further on I wish for all of these futuristic developers many brilliant ideas for this types of ‘comfort-cars’ that will drive the roads in times ,maybe yet to come…

  • thinoxygen

    design of autonomous vehicles is not unlike saying you can chop carrots with your eyes closed. sure, you could…but do you really want to?

    besides, unless the massive and complex transport systems that already exist worldwide were to be completely destroyed and replaced, the safety and practicality concerns cannot simply be dismissed by by designers on the premise that technology will save them.

    any personal vehicle, regardless of it’s propulsion or control strategies, must protect it’s occupants in the event of an accident. this affront to passenger safety cannot be ignored, as the proposal features no restraint systems, no protection from a side impact, and no purported “manual” mode which would allow a user to control the vehicle in an emergency.

    if you want to make a difference, improve public transport.

  • Bryce

    I’ve been dreaming of this vehicle for years. I hope it becomes reality in my lifetime.

  • Eddie

    I think the imaginitive folks over at Pixar beat the curve on this one. The floating recliners seem a much more efficient, comfortable and safe way of accomplishing the complete removal of all human skill from transportation.

    Once you’ve managed to acculturate out the desire to have hands-on control of vehicles from mankind, will it really be necessary to go anywhere with your fellow vegetables?

  • Randy

    Wait, is it April 1st, 2010 already?

  • Pierre Sinsua

    the idea is more impressive than the design

  • Prof Z, genius D

    in the future we will have “no car” ( Mike+ Maaike),
    “no furniture”(Matali Crasset), “no product “( Starck)and we will be … consumer(Philippe Starck)…

  • Frank Friedman

    Has anyone seen Mario Bellini’s car of the future from the MOMA exhibit “The New Domestic Landscape”? This idea was shown in mid 70s. Nice idea, beautiful presentation,
    not thought through enough.

  • Edgy Ricky

    …it’s all in the styling.

  • ricky182

    awesome! i’ll be waiting for this rise.. haha

  • I think about the electic trains at airports of today. To be functional is the necessary of all attributes for a time and power saving instrument/ people mover such as this.
    I like this concept, the style will follow, and safety issues will be resolved.

  • We do not need any more cars, however revolutionary.
    We shouldn’t need cars.
    A future with cars is no different from a 1940s world. We need comfy but fast, efficient, ecologically-friendly and safe modes of transport like buses and trains. Then our streets should be reclaimed by the pedestrian and cyclist to bring back life into city centres.
    Cars have killed our planet.
    And killed people, even when going at 2omph…

  • wow! this is like a roving living room or a house on wheels ahaha but great one wonder if this have a different kind of parts.

  • DBA haus

    My son, at 13, is already a licensed couch potato. Can i accessorize with gym?