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Heatherwick’s autonomous EV concept also cleans up polluted city air



Turning our cars into a giant network of air purifiers might help move the dial on urban pollution …


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Recently Elon Musk launched a $100 Million XPRIZE with the aim to encourage entrepreneurs everywhere to develop new ways to capture Carbon Dioxide from the air with the objective of eliminating the gases harmful effects on the climate. Now, getting one step closer to that vision London-based Heatherwick Studio has unveiled its concept for the Airo electric car for IM Motors that will “vacuum up pollutants from other cars.”


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Revealed today at the Shanghai Motor Show, the vehicle for newly formed Chinese car brand IM Motors was designed by Heatherwick Studio as its first car.

Named Airo, the electric car will be fitted with a HEPA – high-efficiency particulate air – filtering system that will actively clean pollution. It will have both autonomous and driver-controlled modes.


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“Airo isn’t simply another electric car that doesn’t pollute the air,” said Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio.”Instead, using the latest HEPA-filter technology, it goes further by also vacuuming up pollutants from other cars as it drives along.”


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The car has been designed with a flexible interior with rotating seats so that it can be reconfigured into a “multi-functional room.” With the seats facing each other a four-leaf table can be unfolded to create a dining space or a screen extended to watch films or play games.

The car’s interior can also be turned into a bedroom, a little like the autonomous travel suite concept I discussed a while ago, as the contoured seats fully recline to create a double bed. In this mode, the glass roof can be made opaque using the “latest technology” to create a private space.

“Designed to simultaneously address the global space shortage, Airo is also a multi-functional room with extra space for dining, working, gaming or even sleeping,” said Heatherwick.


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“As a new room for our lives, with a changing view, Airo is  a car intended to transport us to a cleaner and better future.”

Alongside the car, Heatherwick Studio has also designed a charging station that it describes as “oozing with character”. These curved stations will be built from weathered steel and have a retractable wire for charging.

The car, which is set to go into production in 2023, was designed for IM Motors – a car brand created by Chinese car company SAIC Motor, online retailer Alibaba Group and the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Group.

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