The VIA AI Learning Kit is an educational package that teaches children how to build a small autonomous vehicle. The kids first assemble the vehicle, then learn how to use basic AI programming to teach the car how to independently navigate a track on the classroom floor – a fun way to introduce children to the basics involved with creating an intelligent, autonomous vehicle.
As cool as AI and autonomous vehicles can be, we decided that it would be great to come up with a modified design that would look more suited to a future where vehicles drive themselves. We enlisted the help of Peter Chang, an intern here at VIA with some background in computer aided design. His mission? To put all of his skills to work to turn the original design into something much more inspirational, creating a modified version of the VIA AI Learner Kit car that uses an external shell to improve the car’s overall aesthetic appeal.
Check out the images below which show the final design from Peter:
An Interview with Peter Chang, Creator of the Re-Imagined VIA AI Learning Kit Car
Charlene Yang sat down with Peter to ask him about his role in creating a new shell design for the VIA Learning Kit Car, his design approach and the challenges that he overcame.
Charlene: So hey Peter, please go ahead and introduce yourself.
Peter: Hi, I’m Peter Chang. I’m currently a student at Pratt Institute in New York, and I’m also an intern at VIA, and my job is to design the VIA AI Learning Kit car shell.
Charlene: Do you mind telling us a little more about the VIA Ai Learning Kit?
Peter: Yeah… It’s a DIY toy car for kids for kids to learn about AI.
Charlene: Do you mind telling us about the purpose of the shell and its design?
Peter: The purpose of this shell is to inspire kids about a futuristic car that fits into the concept of AI.
Charlene: What was your contribution to this design and the production of the shell?
Peter: My contribution is almost everything. I needed to brainstorm ideas, design… product management and 3D printing.
Charlene: So how did you approach this design initially?
Peter: The car is supposed to be futuristic, imaginary and even conceptual, so I’m trying to make the car as unique as possible.
Charlene: What design principles did you apply to your design?
Peter: There are two design principles. First I used our logo, and based on the logo I tried to modify the shape to be as close to our logo as possible, so we can have an even deeper connection between our first designed car and our actual logo. The second principle is the Golden Ratio. By modifying the curve point to be closer to the Golden Ratio it makes the car visually more satisfying. Those are the two main principles I applied to this car.
Charlene: What important design decisions did you face along the way?
Peter: I needed to stretch the length of the wheel base to be even longer. The original ratio is unfortunately too narrow and too short, and it’s very hard to design a shell like that. So I made a very risky decision. I kind of redesigned the chassis of the original car again. The one you see right now is already a modified version, so it fits the overall ratio better and is better looking. But at the beginning we didn’t know what was going to happen if we stretch the wheels to be further away.
Charlene: What other challenges did you face during this project?
Peter: One of the biggest challenges was that I needed to make sure every curve point was accurate. If any curve point or curves are wrong I would need to modify and redraw the whole model again. And also, when I first submitted the file to the 3D Print company, they said it was too complicated, so I tried to simplify it, but not cutting out my design. And we needed to make the whole design and the file more 3D Print compatible. And that was the hardest part of designing the shell.
Charlene: What have you learned during this process?
Peter: I’ve learned to co-operate with many different departments. I needed to reach out to departments like engineering, marketing and R&D, to ask them to help with whole design and maybe get some information from the original car designer. But overall, I learned about co-operation and how to talk to people efficiently.
Charlene: Thank you for talking to us.
Peter: Thank you.
You can also check out this video of Peter talking to Charlene:
Learn more about the VIA AI Learning Kit here.