ROMA – Imagine a minivan whose passenger compartment is covered by a transparent bubble, which rises and lowers to allow the driver and passengers to enter. A window on the world that during the day makes the journey a documentary in 3D, at night an immersion in the stars that look at us from above. And imagine getting on that same concept and seeing your vital signs transmitted on the display: blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and respiratory rate. Have you already had anxiety? Come on.
This minivan already has a name, although for the moment it is a concept. It is called AKXY2 and to make it is not a car manufacturer but Asahi Kasei, a Japanese multinational specialized in innovative materials. His muse is another concept with a vaguely allusive name, the Kar-a-sutra designed by the designer Mario Bellini in 1972 on behalf of the furniture company Cassina. Exhibited at the MoMA in New York, it had as its strong point the versatility of the interior that was transformed in a few moves from living room to bedroom. It is even considered by many to be the progenitor of all MPVs.
Here, however, we are on other levels, because the seats are made with a particular technology called Electronic Layer, a technology that hides some touch sensors inside the fabric that can monitor the health of anyone who gets on board. Not only. The material – conceived by a Californian start-up called Loomia and directed by researcher Madison Maxey – remotely heats and cools in seconds.
In the future the AKXY2 will also be able to move in water, they explain to Asahi Kasei, and seats aside, everything was born in the name of sustainability. In addition to the electric propulsion and the fact that the protective capsule manages to prevent passengers from coming into contact with dangerous substances and pathogens, the internal surfaces are covered with a microfiber suede partially made of recycled polyester and other ingredients, including raw materials ranging from recycled PET, bio-based PET, natural blends and ocean waste.
Last but not least, the tires are made with bio-based butadiene and can improve fuel consumption and energy efficiency thanks to their low rolling resistance, while reducing the production of microplastic dust from the tires.