Many things are being re-evaulated in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, and in the auto industry, this has included the design of vehicles. What does it mean to broaden the horizons of the ways in which our vehicles can keep us safe? What would a vehicle that is built to protect us from germs look like?
In an article for Automotive News, Hannah Elliott talks to car designers who are contemplating these very questions during this period of quarantine. They predict that, in a post-COVID-19 world, new concerns will arise regarding the safety of vehicles.
"... where safety concerns in luxury automobiles have typically centered around, first, protection from collision... now safety concerns include a medical element both mental and physical."
One way designers feel this concern will manifest is in a greater emphasis on clean air within the vehicle. As the article points out, certain manufacturers, especially those who have large markets in countries with serious pollution problems, have already incorporated air filters into the design of their vehicles. However, there is room for advancement in this technology, as Elliott notes that "the notion that a modern car should totally purify any significant amount of air outside the car is relatively new."
Other concerns are being more closely examined, too. For example, designers are beginning to think more deeply about how the environment of a vehicle can help aid the mental health of its occupants.
"... mental health during and after the psychic trauma or an historic pandemic will mean a whole new level of concern. Future drivers will expect total efficiency and total isolation -- for their own safety..."
While pandemics are an incredibly destructive force, they can, at times, force us to rethink the way that we have done things and to adapt and do better in the future. In the aftermath of this crisis, whenever that will be, it will be interesting to see how changes to vehicle design will impact the way we drive in a permanent way.
For more on auto designers' take on the effect of COVID-19, check out the original article by Hannah Elliott in Automotive News.