A self-driving three-wheeled electric vehicle that explores possibilities of form for future vehicles and improves visiting experience in leisure farms in Taiwan


3 Designers  
(Greg Chen, Kai-Chieh Hsu, Ya-Tien Tsai)


6 Months, Fall 2012/ 1 Week, Fall 2019

My role

Research, Conceptualization, Sketch Ideation, Rapid Prototyping, CAD, Rendering, Animation, Video Editing


After Effect, Cinema 4D, Catia, Illustrator, Indesign, Photoshop, Premiere, Sketchbook


The project collaborates with Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan, and the goal is to design a future electric vehicle. This is a 5-year project, our design builds on the vision of promoting three-wheeled vehicles, which was defined by a design researcher one year before us. The rationale for promoting three-wheeled is the structure provides greater safety compared to two-wheeled and easier parking compared to four-wheeled. However, due to the legal constraints in Taiwan, three-wheeled are not allowed to drive on the road yet, so we set our context in leisure farms, which is legal to drive any kind of vehicle. The problem space we define:

How might we promote electric three-wheeled vehicles in a leisure farm by elevating form of vehicle and visiting experience?
Note : I am inspired by the concept of smart cities and thereby iterate the concept further in 2019. Check the section.



Demographic of Leisure farm

According to the data of the Taiwanese government, the main visitors of leisure farms are the age group 31 to 40 years old. Within this group, 78% of them are married couples with children. We thereby define our target group to be family

Source : 觀光日報

Target Group Study

Parents - 31 to 40 years old
Children - Under 18 years old


The kids still live with their parents. They go everywhere together

Steady Income

Parents have steady jobs to provide for the kids

Frequent Weekend Trip

Parents often plant weekend trips to relax from work and enjoy quality time with children


Everyone in the family is in good health

Existing Sightseeing Vehicles Study

We then look into existing sightseeing vehicles in Taiwan. There are three types:

  1. Rail
  2. Four-wheeled
  3. Two-wheeled


It is the most common type of sightseeing vehicle in Taiwan. It’s run by owners and left in a fixed schedule. The common gap between trains is 30 mins to 1 hour. Because it usually carries many people in one train, the comfort may be less satisfied

User Pain Points


It’s run by owners. It carries tourists to their desired places. However, due to the car size, the drivers have to stay out of the road. Therefore, they usually have to drive back to parking lots after the ride. Also, the form is usually bulky and less designed

User Pain Points


Tourists can rent bicycles to go anywhere they want, providing the best mobility and easiness of finding parking spots

User Pain Points

Pain points and solutions

Powered by electricity to avoid using fuel vehicles and reducing air pollution

Make the form more streamlined, appealing and futuristic

Add a top to avoid potential changes of a plan due to weather conditions

Visitors have the choice to ride their own vehicles for better mobility. It could be a bicycle, three-wheeled or four-wheeled

Bicycle and three-wheeled are about the same size. They are easier to find parking compared to four-wheeled

Three-wheeled and four-wheeled have a larger storage room and provide better balance

Define Design Principles

form design

Sketch Ideation

We sketch based on the design guidelines and try a couple of different directions, including curvy, structural, conceptual, and rounded

Rapid Prototype

We sketch based on the design guidelines and try a couple of different directions, including curvy, structural, conceptual, and rounded

Validation A

We build both 3D model and physical model to validate the look and feel. The model is made with clay. It’s been a fun adventure  since we have very little experience, and the equipment is very limited. We even have to create an oven and tools by ourselves. During the modeling, we explore many details and iterate CAD accordingly. The form is getting more and more specific in this iterative process

Validation B

In the validation of the second form, we explore a different way of modeling. We first crave the shape out in PU and use it as a base to vacuum heated ABS onto it

Validation A versus B

We decide to go with form B and continue to refine the details

Appearance Model

We decide to go with form B and continue to refine the details


Visitors can decide if they want to rent a Whale at the tourist center

The maximum capacity of each Whale is 2 adults. If visitors travel in a group, they can turn on Auto Following to follow the first vehicle

Whale provides auditory tour guides and shows only essential information through HUD, so tourists can focus on the view and not be distracted by interfaces

When arriving at a destination, visitors can park Whale alongside the road since the size of it is rather smaller and perfect for street parking

The battery is designed to last a day without charging, and Whale will start charging after visitors return it

key features

iteration in 2019


I come across the smart cities concept at MIT media lab and realize Whale project might have the potential to be part of IoT network and become a solution in addressing traffic in a smart city. I thereby start small-scale design research to find out commuters’ pain points


3.2 million people are working in Taipei city, either residing in the city or commuting from other counties. They could take public transportation, vehicles, or bikes. Commuting by vehicles is the most common way in everyday commuting, taking up 45.3 percent. This is also where our opportunity lies.

Data Source: Department of Transportation, Taipei City government

Among those who commute by vehicle, 58.3 percents are scooter riders. I interview these two groups and synthesize the findings

Data Source: Department of Transportation, Taipei City government

Commuters Interview

Pain points and solutions

Parking and Safety Concerns

Tricycle could be the solution to solve insufficient parking spaces in the city since it can fit in current scooter parking lots. On the other hand, by adding one more wheel to scooters, it increases stability

Weather Concerns

Riders are worried about the weather when riding scooters. They might get wet on rainy days and get sweating on hot days. Adding a canopy allows them to be free from the concerns

Traffic Congestion

By sending everyday information such as the departure time to the center, the city can suggest the best route to avoid massive traffic zones. Also, it could make self-driving vehicles possible, reducing not only traffic jams caused by human errors but also the energy spent on transportation

Air Pollution

An electric car can reduce air pollution on the road significantly for both car users and scooter riders. In addition, a smart city could help as mentioned above.

Smart City

As mobile networks are getting widespread, it connects every device in a city. In this case, it connects all vehicles and provides an overall solution. Humans can spend less time commuting and enjoy a  less polluted environment

next step

Form engineering

Form development of Whale is mostly conceptual and has no engineering grounding to optimize wind resistance. Such assessment could bring the design one step closer to production. Besides, It would be interesting to evaluate how much an additional top could burden energy efficiency.

Better adapt to Smart city

Although the brief iteration in 2019 implies Whale’s potential of being part of a smart city, it needs further research and insights on how to refine Whale to better adapt to a smart city. For example, Whale is a driverless autonomous vehicle network that meets the infrastructure of a smart city.

Connected with Personal Devices

Back in 2012 while Whale was designed, smartphones were not yet commonly adopted, so Whale was not designed to connect with any personal devices. It would be an interesting exploration to see how user experience can be enhanced and personalized by integrating personal devices.