Honda. Great Journey

Imagining a comfortable and modern exploration of the planet

Technology for exploration

We worked with Creative Director Morihiro Harano to imagine future vehicles for Honda that use their latest technology and capture the spirit of their brand. Emerging vehicle technologies usually focus on improving safety and efficiency. We asked how they might make a journey beyond the currently possible and realise a dream rather than solve everyday problems. Inspired by the human nature to migrate and explore, we created a journey that retraces mankind’s great migration from Africa across the globe to South America.

One great journey : seven vehicles

It is in mankind’s nature to travel. Millions of years ago we migrated over 50,000km from Africa, north into Europe across the globe; adapting to the terrain as we travelled. Archaeologist Brian Fagan calls this ‘The Great Journey’. Mori asked us to reimagine this journey and conceive a vehicle for Honda that would tackle it today.

Travelling through grass plains, deserts, mountains, sea, snow and jungle we realised that one vehicle could never cover the distance of this journey without compromises to comfort and pleasure. We broke the journey into seven stages and designed separate vehicles for each, allowing us to tailor the design for each terrain and consider the needs of the environment for pleasurable travel and living. The resulting vehicles can drive autonomously day and night and offer shelter but also offer superb views of the passing scenery, a hot bath and space for the family pet.

Grounded dreams

Whilst stretching from current realities, it was important for the vehicles to be credible in the technology they are based upon. We researched vehicles old and new that specifically deal with the terrains we would travel through and spent time with Honda in Japan. We were inspired by their autonomous driving technology; fuel cells and solar power and unique products such as Asimo and the Uni-Cub. We married these with Honda’s rich heritage and DNA to develop the best vehicles for the terrains they would tackle.

Slow, comfortable and fun adventure

We imagined the journey as a slow discovery of the globe and not a race to the end and so living in the vehicles became as important as travel itself. With Universal Design Studio we created comfortable and credible living spaces for each vehicle. Desert living is inspired by the Bedouin with a canopied living space and comfortable nights in the jungle are spent hanging in a treehouse. To visualise life on the road we collected items you might find in each vehicle from safari hat to fishing rod and dreamt of the fun things you might do (like float above safari plains or ski across the tundra).

Sharing the dream

Modelmaking is a fundamental aspect of our work and to to really bring our ideas to life, we commissioned scale models of the final designs and put them in the environments for which they were designed. With models crafted by Ogle Models we worked with Petr Krejci to create film sets representing the terrains we imagined and through stop frame and live action film brought our whole vision to life.

Safari Drifter

The first vehicle is designed for maximum enjoyment of the African plains. Inspired by the utilitarian 1970s Honda Vamos, it combines the capabilities of a four-wheel drive with the comforts of a camper van. It can be driven from both ends to quickly change direction when on safari and autonomous Honda mowers act as drones to guide the vehicle. For the best dusk and dawn views, the roof platform lifts into the sky beneath a helium balloon for uninterrupted 360º views.

Desert Train

To tackle sandy and rocky desert, we drew inspiration from the most traditional desert vehicle: the camel train. A series of connected vehicles slowly and efficiently tackle the terrain powered by Honda fuel cells. Excess water generated as a by-product is filtered into the rolling water container at the rear and at night the train transforms into a Bedouin camp complete with giant boom box to party in the depths of the desert. The rugged vehicles are inspired by Honda two-stroke generators and Motra motorcycles.

Mountain Climber

The Mountain Climber is a heavy duty truck with high ground clearance and a solid metal body to protect inhabitants from rock fall on the treacherous Himalayan roads. Robotic legs inspired by Asimo can be deployed to negotiate fallen boulders and re-build damaged roads. The chalet-like interior is capped at either end with floor-to-ceiling glass to create the perfect viewing platform to take in the spectacular views from a cosy lounge chair.

Island Hopper

Hopping from Hong Kong, across Japan to the peninsula of Kamchatka the Island Hopper deals with the mixture of rocky beaches, islands and ocean. Using Honda’s expertise with lightweight Formula One structures and solar technology, it is an amphibious vehicle powered by six paddle wheels. Sitting just above the water the sun deck provides a comfortable space to relax or fish and a night the sides of the canopy un-roll and festoon lighting turns on for a more intimate space.

Tundra Sled

The journey across the frozen north is powered by a series of wheeled drones using Honda’s Uni-Cub self-balancing drive units inspired by the manoeuvrability of dog sleds. They pull the comfortable sled along and act as a pack to avoid cracks and crevasses in the ice. The luxurious sled has everything you need to survive the harsh conditions. In the day, a single drone can be detached to ski behind and at night, the hot tub on the rear deck is the perfect place to enjoy the unpolluted night sky with the integrated telescope.

Road Tripper

The man-made roads from Alaska to Mexico provide the smoothest leg of the journey. The Road Tripper uses Honda’s autonomous driving technology and their gyro-steering system to allow you to enjoy the Californian coastal roads from the comfort of a sofa or by jumping on one of the on-board café racers to ride ahead. The aerodynamic glass and stainless steel tube is inspired by the iconic form and graphic language of Honda’s 1960s Formula One cars and Daytona motorcycles and opens up in the evenings for beach-side aprés-surf barbecues.

Jungle Jumper

The last leg of the journey is a mixture of broken tarmac roads, dirt tracks and thick jungle. The Jungle Jumper is a two-part vehicle that copes with this. Inspired by Honda T360 pickup trucks, the six-wheeled truck rides on high suspension with deep-tread tyres for extra traction. As it drives a seed spreader helps reforestation of the jungle. On its back rides the habitation unit which is hoisted into the trees at the end of the day and concertinas open to provide platforms for sleeping, living and enjoying the jungle’s canopy.