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Autonomous Cars for Kids Double as Playground Furniture: Coen Car by Nendo

Adults shouldn’t be having all the fun when it comes to artificial intelligence, especially when it’s implemented in autonomous vehicles. Enter the Coen Car by Nendo and DeNA.
The Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furniture 27 photos
Photo: Nendo
The Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furnitureThe Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furniture
We’re still some distance away from a truly autonomous passenger car, but if you want a slice of the future, you can have it today. Well, a taste of it, to be more precise. The Coen Car by Nendo, in partnership with DeNA, is a concept car that reimagines playground furniture as mobile, because it’s made of autonomous vehicles.

The Coen Car is a driverless, AI-operated tiny (and very cute) car for kids, with two-fold functionality because it can also serve as mobile playground furniture. In other words, it’s a tiny thing that can ferry your kid around town, but also offers endless fun and several good hours of high-energy activity. Parents know how important that last part is.

The Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furniture
Photo: Nendo
The idea behind the project was to take emerging tech like AV and AI and make it truly inclusive, by targeting kids. It draws for inspiration on the past and uses modern tech to ensure the safety of the kids, free up space in parks and offer an unprecedented level of convenience.

Nendo designed “a car of the near future that plays with children.” Actually, it designed six of them in total, each serving a different form of activity, based on the basic motions employed in a kids’ playground: climb, spin, swing, slide, rest and jump.

“Coen” actually means park in Japanese, and that’s the first clue as to how these tiny cars would be used. They would travel the city from park to park, or be summoned at dedicated events, and could even ferry kids around town.

The Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furniture
Photo: Nendo
“Taking advantage of the mobility of cars, the number of vehicles can be flexibly adjusted according to the size of the park, or to have them pull up whenever needed, such as to baseball fields before games or around the time people gather,” Nendo says.

“One of the perks may be how they look driving in a line like circus cars on the road,” reads the description of the project. “Also, the dedicated app enables users to stay up-to-date on where the cars are driving now and what time they’re arriving at nearby parks. Gathering enough people to call the cars may be another option.”

Each of the six AVs can be used separately or combined, or their use can even be left to the imagination of the kids using them. Agaru supports vertical motion and resembles a trolley that allows a child to sit inside it while it’s in motion. It can also be used as a platform for some of the other pieces of interactive playground equipment.

Mawaru resembles a hedgehog and rotates, but can also be used for climbing. Yureru performs a sideway motion, which allows a child to climb on it and hold on to the spike. Suberu is a slide, while Haneru can serve as a trampoline or a ball pit. Yasumu encourages breaks from activity and takes the form of a string of interactive pods that resemble a train, with a pod filled with a potted plant serving as locomotive.

The Coen Car concept imagines 6 autonomous vehicles that double as interactive playground furniture
Photo: Nendo
As noted above, either two of these vehicles could be coupled to create a new piece of playground furniture, or they can all be used together to create an obstacle course. When traveling across cities, these vehicles would do so in a single row, “like circus cars,” with or without kids on board.

“With cutting-edge technology, the project aimed to create a new relationship between people and cars that is more than a just means for transportation,” Nendo says of the idea. “It completely switched the old view of cars as something we should never play near, to something that plays with kids right beside them.”

On paper.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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