NIO Project Horizon

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What if future air travel was highly sustainable and appealing? What if you could hop from building rooftop to rooftop or better, from a city to an island without the worries of ground congestion and gridlocks? And how would it look like if NIO decided to take this opportunity and broaden their product offerings? These were some of the initial question that guided the project towards a mode of mobility which is new and challenging to realize. Admittedly It was also exciting to imagine what would future of autonomy look like in something other that a car and to see if A.I. driven technologies and fresh architecture ideas could enhance this experience. And remove the safety and social acceptance stigmas from this type of mobility. Furthermore to see how the design would be influenced by specific target user group & their needs.

Inspiration and Method

From Post-it ideation to Alias mock-up and Virtual reality software to validate ideas, the process saw use of several tools. Initial stage included several basic CAS layout proposals which allowed for fresh ideas which were translated into detailed sketches on paper and in Photoshop. Two loops of mid-level detailed CAS were generated and then through combination of both, and additional analogue material the final loop of Alias was completed and then handed to In-house CAS team for refinement and physical prototyping support. Throughout the process there were several check points with the mentor, interior director & university tutors which gave valuable input & direction to the project.


The final outcome is a Vertical take off landing vehicle which shows a holistic idea of how future NIO products could look like. A small fleet and a shared model make this realistic and accessible mode of mobility. Passengers are welcomed to a NIO house which also acts as a Sky-deck for the vehicle. Open interior layout of the vehicle poses unique and exciting possibilities for either enjoying personal time or a dialog during the journey. Key functions such as ambient air, music or photo-chromatic glass can be activated by interacting with the two A.I. units placed on top of each seating zone. Use of recycled & vegan materials and lightweight construction of the seats allow for a bigger surface area but optimized weight. The overall welcoming gesture of the interior space aims for attracting a wide group of passengers.