Nendo’s Coen Car is a concept introducing children to autonomous vehicles, while also functioning as pieces of mobile and interactive playground equipment.
Designed for Tokyo-based technology company DeNA, the concept features six different mobile
vehicles designs that take inspiration from the movements commonly found in playgrounds, such as climbing, spinning, and sliding.
The Coen Cars are intended to autonomously travel around parks or kindergarten areas, acting as both objects for play and transportation.
DeNA Co., Ltd. is known for its business in numerous IT-related services, such as the development and operation of mobile games and social media.
The company also conducts projects on urban infrastructure development and community building through the sports industry including management of a professional baseball team, as well as services leveraging AI technology, and utilization of autonomous driving technology.
By gathering the know-how from these three new businesses, a collaborative project of “a car of the near future that plays with children” was developed.
The AI technology suggests new ways to play learned from similar situations in the past, while ensuring children’s safety using autonomous driving technology.
The project aims to revitalize communities by making rounds through parks or “coen” in Japanese, open spaces, kindergartens, and the like.
First, common playground equipment and related activities were researched and six basic motions were chosen to develop into six different car models.
“01.agaru” supports vertical motion, “02.mawaru” rotates, “03.yureru” is equipped with an
unsteady sideway motion like playing on monkey bars and swings, slide down from “04.suberu”,
“05.haneru” with a leaping motion, and “06.yasumu” encourages breaks from activity.
In this way, “factors of play” were extracted and converted into respective vehicular forms that can be freely combined to realize various ways to play.
For example, two “01.agaru” units facing each other turn into equipment like a see-saw, and combining “01.agaru” and “04.suberu” form a slide.
It is also possible to co-create an entirely new way to play with children’s own ideas.
Taking advantage of the mobility of cars, the number of vehicles can be flexibly adjusted according to the size of the park, or to have them pull up whenever needed, such as to baseball fields before games or around the time people gather.
One of the perks may be how they look driving in a line like circus cars on the road. Also, the dedicated app enables users to stay up-to-date on where the cars are driving now and what time they’re arriving at nearby parks.
Gathering enough people to call the cars may be another option. With cutting-edge technology, the project aimed to create a new relationship between people and cars that is more than a just means for transportation.
It completely switched the old view of cars as something we should never play near, to something that plays with kids right beside them.
The concept cars have an accompanying app that allows parents to keep track of when and where the vehicles are moving and what time they will arrive at nearby parks.
“With cutting-edge technology, the project aims to create a new relationship between people and cars that is more than a just means for transportation,” states Nendo.
With many parents seeking to balance the use of technology with hands-on play, innovations like the Coen Car are merging digital and analogue activities in outdoor spaces.
Project: Coen Car by Nendo
Collaborators: nrs, tao (product)
Manufacturer: DeNA Co., Ltd.
Photographers: Akihiro Yoshida