What does the car of the future look like? If you ask someone in the industry, they might start talking about what's next for self-driving cars. Ask a 10-year-old, on the other hand, and they might suggest cars that harvest drinking water from fog as they drive, or modular cars that join together to form public transportation.
Those were a couple of the ideas from the Toyota Dream Car Art Contest, a global competition that asks kids to draw their vision of the "dream car of the future" each year. Over 600,000 kids entered this year, and Toyota is releasing one design from each of 90 finalists a day, complete with a short animation whipped up for each design.
Some of the ideas are not so serious, like this banana space car from 6-year-old Parker Su of Taiwan:
But others took creative approaches to solving actual problems. Several of the designs suggested cars that could scoop up and recycle trash off the street as they drove along; one version turned plastic scraps into low-cost bricks for housing, while another created new products in a section of the car.
An 11-year-old designer came up with a car that 3-D-prints houses:
Another reinvented the school bus, with individual cars that would be programmed to join together at a certain point to reduce traffic:
A few of the ideas seem at least partly feasible, like a suggestion from a 14-year-old designer from Qatar that cars could harvest moisture from the air, in certain climates, to help water plants and gather drinking water. If billboards can harvest fog, why not cars?
Some ideas hinted at interesting possibilities for the distant, sci-fi future, like a car that shrinks down to fit in your pocket at the push of a button--so you can forget about parking issues--or a car that shifts shapes based on mind control.
"We at Toyota believe that great ideas and great cars are born from the power to dream, and it is important to nurture this power of the next generation," says Masanao Tomozoe, president of Toyota Motor Sales and Marketing. "We wanted to provide the opportunity for kids to really explore their dreams of the future and share them through drawings. . . . They offer such innovative and out of the box solutions."