LOS ANGELES, California, November 13, 2013 (ENS) – This year’s Design Challenge at the Los Angeles Auto Show calls on automotive designers to use natural forms and functions as inspiration for their concept cars.

“Biomimicry & Mobility 2025 – Nature’s Answer to Human Challenges” is the theme of this 10th year of the contest. The winner’s reward is recognition from hundreds of thousands of viewers who will enter a newly created Design Gallery that makes designers an integral part of the show.

The nine concept vehicles submitted by design studios from China, Germany, Japan and the United States have been created with nature’s inspiration. At the same time they must address a range of transportation issues, such as traffic congestion, air pollution, safety and sustainability.

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Nature-inspired concept design from China’s Changfeng Motors (Image courtesy LA Auto Show)

The nine auto design studios from around the world participating in the Design Challenge represent the brands BMW, Changfeng, JAC Motors, Mazda, Qoros, SAIC Motor, Subaru and Toyota.

Three additional studios are not competing in the Challenge but will be showcased in the Gallery: Hyundai Design and Research Center, Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Center California and Nissan Design America.

Inspirations for the concept vehicles have come from sources as diverse as self-sustaining silk worms and long-forgotten waterways.

The entries will be judged on creative adaptation of nature’s laws; application of human intelligence to biomimicry in unique ways to improve the efficiency of future vehicles; comfort, convenience, aesthetics of the vehicle; sustainability of the building, servicing, operation, and life cycle; and the personality of the vehicle in relationship to the brand.

All entries will be presented and a winner will be selected during the Design Los Angeles Open House and Challenge Presentations on the final Press Day, Thursday, November 21. The show will be open to the public November 22 through December 1.

In addition to the nine competing studios, three additional studios are joining this year’s Design Gallery to showcase their team’s capabilities making for a total of 12 auto design studios from around the world participating in the show.

Entries will be judged by Tom Matano, executive director, School of Industrial Design at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University; Stewart Reed, chair of Transportation Design at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design and John Manoogian, adjunct professor Auto Design Studio at the College for Creative Studies.

A guest judge, Dr. Gabriel Miller, currently serves as the director of research and development at the Centre for Bioinspiration at San Diego Zoo Global, where he devotes his work to the implementation of nature’s design and engineering solutions to advance humanity, wildlife and habitats.

2013 Design Challenge entries include:

BMW Group DesignworksUSA, USA – To solve LA’s daily traffic congestion and decrease the environmental impact, BMW Group DesignworksUSA designers explore forgotten waterways as a commuting alternative with their vehicle concept, “L.A. Subways.” The entry is inspired by the efficiency of swarms and the unique power generating processes found within cells.

BMW Group DesignworksUSA, USA – Inspired by biomimicry, the BMW “S.E.E.D (Sustainable Efficient Exploratory Device)” was created to explore the world’s harshest environments in search of new life forms. Using the maple seed as its inspiration, this vehicle uses a multifunctional rotating tail and nature’s elements such as solar energy, wind and gravity as its main sources of mobility.

Changfeng Motor Corporation, China – Using a hollow reed design in a spiral dynamic configuration, Changfeng has created “LaBrea – Los Angeles Bio Research Project,” which utilizes a closed loop and semi rigid torsion reed network to distribute and manage maneuvering capabilities. The entire system resembles a grasshopper, capable of running, jumping, climbing, swimming and also the ability to squeeze between narrow openings. From holographic Emoji to update traffic patterns, to techno gel seat cushions that provide cooling and heating, the LaBrea mobility system’s message is “Adapt or Die.”

JAC Motors R & D Center, Japan – JAC Motors introduces “HEFEI” (Harmonious Eco-Friendly Efficient Infrastructure), a mobility solution inspired by the self-sufficiency of the ecosystem. This mobility network offers symbiosis between vehicles and their urban environment. Idle vehicles are used to power running vehicles; a power grid supports the entire system; and automated traffic regulates itself, decreasing accidents, traffic jams and energy loss.

Mazda Design Americas, USA – To prepare for the day when autonomous self-driving vehicles take over the roads, Mazda has designed “AUTO ADAPT.” Studying how insects have adapted, Mazda has created a vehicle that has the ability to adapt from being fully autonomous to a manual machine. These vehicles are geared to those drivers who long for the excitement of driving an automobile; a pleasure that could be completely eliminated from the autonomous cars of 2025.

Qoros Auto, China – Acting as a control hub, the “Silk Road System” designed by Qoros will allow vehicles to operate harmoniously in traffic, eliminating accidents. Using the silk worm as its inspiration, Silk Road Vehicles and Silk Bots aims to offer the drivers of Shanghai a fool-proof, sustainable and waste-free mobility system.

SAIC Motor, China – Inspired by a simple ant’s distinctive body structure and the mutually beneficial relationship between ants and trumpet trees, SAIC Motors designed the Roewe “Mobiliant.” Mobiliant is a single-seat vehicle for urban public transit that helps improve operational efficiency for future urban systems.

Subaru Global Design Team, Japan – Subaru’s designers aimed to change the man-vehicle relationship in a revolutionary way with the “SUBA-ROO,” a one-legged, self-contained, wearable mobility vehicle with a propulsion method that mimics the efficient, powerful jumping motions of a kangaroo.

CALTY Design Research, Toyota Design Network, USA – Designed as the ultimate electric hyper-commuter vehicle, the Toyota “e-grus” specializes in long distance travel and minimal footprint city driving. Inspired by the crane, e-grus can be driven autonomously. Grus is latin for crane and is also the name of a genus of large birds in the crane family.

The e-grus can be positioned at a full extension aero profile for efficiency and high speed stability, much like a crane in flight.

The dual mode shifts through an active metal surface that sends electric currents for a pliable skin that hardens once positioned vertically or horizontally.

The Design Challenge is organized by the LA Auto Show and the Design Los Angeles chairs, Joan Gregor and Chuck Pelly of The Design Academy.

PHOTO: The Design Challenge entry from China’s Changfeng Motor Corp., the La Brea – Los Angeles Bio Research Project, Design Concept: Daniel Darancou (Image courtesy LA Auto Show)