Beautiful vehicle’s design journey

The Centaur – now we’re cooking with gas!

It’s sleek, desirable and life-enhancing, but the real beauty of the Centaur is the design work the eye can’t see.

The two-wheeled, self-balancing personal electric vehicle won a prestigious award last year for combining problem-solving functionality with beautiful design.

The Centaur was one of the highlights of The Fast Company’s Innovation By Design awards, which put it in the same company as Spotify, Google and Disney+. But this isn’t the only plaudit for the revolutionary machine, which was also featured in Design Week.

‘Design for manufacture’

The newly-launched Design Age Institute, set up by the UK government to stimulate the longevity economy, said the Centaur is ‘designed to be a thing of beauty’.

As it approaches the manufacturing stage, the eye-catching machine is now being tested using ‘design for manufacture’ technology. This approach, used by automotive giants to get vehicles to market faster and problem free, eliminates teething problems and is an efficient computer-driven solution to practical problems.

Dropped off a kerb

Centaur Robotics’ Design Director Paul Campbell, who won awards for his design work with Ford, said: “We think of everything that can go wrong and find answers. It’s a kind of virtual testing but it’s the exact same technique used by car manufacturers.

“For example, using computer simulation, we dropped the Centaur off a kerb and then, after analysing the results, we designed the wheels so they don’t break. We also ‘ran’ it into a wall at 6km an hour to ensure the parts were robust enough.

“This gives us a new, higher level of confidence – the same that Ford, Volkswagen or Mercedes-Benz have for their vehicles – because we are going through exactly the same testing process.”

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Rising to the challenge

Poor mobility can equal loneliness

Centaur Robotics expects to have six prototypes ready for trials in retirement villages and shopping centres by mid-August this year. “We’ll then take the feedback and make the refinements these customers identify,” added Mr Campbell.

As well as being highly manoeuvrable, the Centaur has a seat that raises the user to eye-level and can fit into the space of a dining room chair.

The Centaur offers greater opportunities for users at risk of loneliness as a result of poor mobility. Colum Lowe, director of the Design Age Institute, said of the Centaur: “What interests us is that the Centaur will provide users with more dignity, more freedom, more life and more joy.”