Since its inception all the way back in 1896 and revival in 1927, the London to Brighton Run has been a firm favorite in the motoring calendar. As one of the world’s largest gatherings of veteran cars, the rally makes its way from Hyde Park in London along the old A23 road to Brighton - a distance of 54 miles.
This puffing, clunking and wheezing procession of historic motor cars commemorates the Emancipation Run of 14 November 1896 which celebrated the passing into law of the Locomotives on the Highway Act, which raised the speed limit for 'light locomotives' [that means cars in modern speak] from 4 mph to whopping 14 mph. And if that wasn't exciting enough back in 1896, the act also abolished the requirement for cars to be preceded by a man on foot - yes, that's right, it used to be compulsory for a car to be guided by a man on foot waving a red flag.
So, with all that preservation and historical significance, it would be a little strange to introduce driverless and connected technology, right? Well, that's exactly what the Royal Automobile Club tasked the Transport Design students at the Royal College of Art with - challenging them to design a sustainable, connected and potentially driverless vehicle for an imagined Brighton to London in 2026. From two-wheeled, driverless carriages to modern-day twists on classic horseless coachwork, here’s a selection of the weird and wonderful creations the team of budding designers came up with.
Competition winner Yang Lui's 'Benz Velo' takes its inspiration from the 1894 car, designed by Karl Benz with which it shares its name. With just two wheels, the Benz Velo is designed for the urban environments, being able to turn on its axis and steered - if necessary - by a central joystick.
One of the most passenger-friendly orientated concepts is the'Vis-à-vis' by Stavros Mavrakis. Based on the Peugeot Type 9 Vis-a-Vis from 1895, the driverless car features face-to-face bench seating with no driving controls whatsoever. Better have faith in the technology, then.
Jack Watson’s ‘Type H’ is a modern take on De Dion-Bouton engineering. Powered by hydrogen fuel-cell technology that sits below the cabin, the concept develops on the true meaning of a saloon car, where the body and storage compartment are separate.
Bin Sun’s 'Mercedes Simplex' takes its inspiration from the 1902 car by the same name. As one of the first sports orientated cars, the Simplex boasted 42hp - which, at the time when most people had a horse, was pretty significant, no? His concept features rear-facing back seats for passengers and a sleak, sporting overall profile.