Student’s accessible taxi concept scoops top design award

Student work - Embark by Calum

Article by: David Millett

Publication date:

We are proud to announce that BA (Hons) Product Design student Calum Gambrill has won the prestigious Ford Design Award for his autonomous taxi service concept designed to help people with access requirements.

The Ford Design Award, sponsored by the famed automotive company, forms part of the New Designers Awards, the largest graduate design show in the UK. It challenges students to adopt a human-centric approach to designing autonomous vehicles.

Student work - Embark by Calum

Calum’s winning project is ‘Embark’, a taxi service designed for people with physical disabilities. Passengers use a specially-designed app to summon a self-driving vehicle to their location. Once it arrives, a door on its side opens to reveal a ramp allowing for easy access.

Inside, the car features a screen which tracks their journey. It can also be linked to their favourite entertainment apps so passengers can watch videos or listen to music on their way to their destination.

For his prize, Calum wins £1,000 to support the development of his design career and a two-month mentorship with D-Ford designers. The win has received press coverage from multiple outlets, including THIIS Magazine and Access and Mobility.

Image of mobile phone with a version of the student's app displayed

Calum commented, "Winning this award has been an amazing way to top off my undergraduate degree at Ravensbourne! I’m glad my work can be recognised for making a positive difference in people's lives, especially those of us that are often marginalised or misrepresented. Inclusion, accessibility and representation are invaluable and this award is a reminder of their importance." 

Usha Raghavachari, D-Ford Lab Director, said: “The real human rights insights identified by Calum made his entry a standout for us, as Embark embraces human-centred design. He also identified an opportunity area for autonomous vehicles, which seems a great match for the needs he defined, illustrating the incredible scope for change this technology can provide.”

On behalf of the Product Design teaching team, course leader Nadine Bennett said: "Massive congratulations to Calum, this is an amazing award to pick up – and very well deserved. This represents clear recognition of some great work carried out during his three years with Ravensbourne.”

The ND Awards 21 received over 1,500 entries across all categories.