The Mini 45 EV:
A mighty little concept car
5 minute read
Sometimes the biggest and boldest ideas take on the smallest form. A tiny space can represent years of research and development, and some of the world’s most ground-breaking advances in tech. And it can also do good. It can create hope and happiness, it can make the difference between a great day and a bad day, and it can put big smiles on the faces of those who need it most. This is the case for our brand-new Mini 45 EV.
This Mini 45 EV is unique in both its size and its function. We decided that our tech innovations could help some of the most vulnerable across the world – our children. And so, for the time being, this is not a car for our roads.
Instead it takes on a very different role: the compact and clever vehicle, which is styled on the Hyundai 45 concept car, will use Emotional Adaptive Vehicle Control, or EAVC, to help create a relaxed and stress-free environment for young children undergoing cancer at one of the world’s leading pediatric hospitals, the SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital, Spain.
Intrigued? Let’s take a step back to find out how the mighty Mini 45 EV came about.
Collaboration for Progress
Collaboration leads to creativity and the Mini 45 EV is just one exciting example of this. Conducting research and building prototypes is common practice for companies like ours, but we asked ourselves some questions. How could we put this research to the very best use? Who could we help? How could we stay true to our vision of Progress for Humanity, and deliver it tangibly – today?
So, we sat down with the Media Lab team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to brainstorm and get creative. Instead of simply building the prototype we asked ourselves how this tech could be truly useful and valued across the world.
Then the lightbulb moment: a vision to transform the Mini 45 EV into a fun-giving friend that could intuitively recognize the anxiety of the children who were fearful of the hospital environment and their upcoming treatment. And so our engineers decided to build this car for our world’s youngest drivers, and creative positive experiences for them in a space that may have once been scary – the doctor’s office.
One important journey
To make this dream a reality we spoke to our friends at the SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital, one of the world’s leading treatment facilities for children with cancer, to see if our tech advances could help them. The response was a resounding yes. And so, after years of research and development in Seoul and Massachusetts, the Mini 45 EV was packed in a little box, wrapped in a bow, and sent to Spain to take on its big new role.
Our tech talks – quite literally. EAVC is an innovative technology that reads biometric signals, such as expressions, heart rate, and breathing of car passengers, to identify their emotions and biological conditions. Using artificial intelligence, the technology can understand the driver’s biological and emotional reactions under a multitude of driving environments, from accelerating and decelerating, to music, temperature, lighting, fragrance, and more.
But such tech requires a new and unique approach. We wanted to optimize the space within the car for its little drivers and we wanted the vehicle to engage with them on their level. To talk to them, laugh with them, and make them smile instead of frown.
And so today, children that are in the hospital for treatment are asked if they’d like to take a seat in the Mini 45 EV, and take it for a spin around the corridors, all while the five key EAVC tech features come into play: Facial Emotion Recognition System, Breathing Exercise Belt, Heart Rate Monitoring Sensor, Emotion Adaptive Lighting, and Emotion Adaptive Scent Dispenser.
The tech recognizes the children’s emotions as they drive with signals that can monitor everything from frowning to smiling. This information is then relayed to staff and parents via features like an underside lighting system that glows red to show if a child is concerned and green if they are feeling happier.
The best bit? The children are kept happily engaged with many fun features that provide reassurance and big smiles. For example, by using the information gathered by the Breathing Exercise Belt, the Emotion Adaptive Scent Dispenser emits the scent of delicious candy, which encourages the little driver to breathe in and out.
Music and colorful lights are also displayed in the centre console via a cartoon format that talks the child through the next steps of their journey. And our favorite feature: big bubbles that are released as the Mini Car reaches the doctor’s office, showing that the child is feeling calm and reassured.
The result? A unique and interactive hospital experience that comforts children in a challenging environment, while also helping medical staff adapt their response to each patient’s needs.
Big ideas and bold design
Such a smart car demands an equally slick exterior, and so our designers jumped in, too. Bumsoo Jo, who led the Concept 45 design, got involved in the design of the Mini 45 EV, and so the petite EV has been inspired by the 45 EV concept – with curvier child-friendly lines.
It also features a Performance Blue exterior color with orange accents which is eye-catching for little drivers, while inside, two DC motors give children a top speed of 7km/h in a single, central seat, inspired by motorsports. Meanwhile it’s crafted out of eco-friendly wood, and runs on the driver’s laughter, all thanks to the Emotion Adaptive Vehicle Control tech.
The Mini 45 EV may be small but its intuitive technology has big potential for all. The car has now been donated to the SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital, for permanent use, while the data captured continues to provide vital AI-based research to MIT and Hyundai, helping to carve out a new route for human-centred mobility and create safer, more intuitive driving experiences for all of us.