2012 LA Auto Show Design Challenge asks automakers for futuristic highway patrol vehicle

Kyle Thibaut
For the past nine years, organizers of the Los Angeles Auto Show have chosen a Design Challenge theme, ranging from futuristic race cars to ultra-lightweight concepts. The Design Challenge is a contest for any automaker's studio to show off their design prowess with forward-thinking insights into the future of transportation. This year's theme is 'Highway Patrol Vehicle 2025' and the results are both intriguing and a bit scary.

"The vehicle should empower highway patrol officers to meet new demands and effectively both 'protect and serve' the public while considering not just enforcement needs but emission concerns, population growth and transportation infrastructure, among other trends," according to the LA Auto Show's website. The submissions will be judged based on design, creativity and environmental considerations.

Design studios from BMW, GM, Honda, Mercedes, and Subaru have all entered submissions, with the winner to be announced November 29 during an event at the 2012 LA Auto Show.

Check out the gallery below for the design entrants:

  • BMW Group DesignworksUSA

    BMW’s entrant comes from LA-based BMW Group DesignworksUSA. The team chose Los Angeles as their futuristic setting. Their E-Patrol (Human-Drone Pursuit Vehicle) design was developed based on BMW's prediction of more traffic and faster vehicles in LA's future. Given that the designs are also judged on environmental factors, it goes without saying that many of the vehicles get their power from alternative fuel sources, including BMW's E-Patrol.

    The design’s main focus is drone technology. The primary vehicle can deploy three drones for pursuit under heavy traffic conditions. The officer has the option of sending out either a flying or single-wheeled drone to chase suspects and keep tabs on them (much like the police vehicles in 2002's Minority Report).

  • Image Credit: BMW
  • General Motors Advanced Design California

    GM developed the Volt Squad, a three vehicle fleet designed around the principles "observe, pursue, and engage." Each concept has an explicit role for each situation. As expected, an electric Voltec powertrain is at the core of each vehicle.

  • Image Credit: GM
  • Honda R&D Americas, Inc., Advanced Design Studio

    Honda Advanced Design, based in California, created the CHP Drone Squad. Designed to work in a harsh environment predicted for the California highway system in 2025, the Drone Squad is comprised of a 2 vehicle system. The two vehicles operate both manned and un-manned. The mission control vehicle deploys Moto-Drones similar to BMW’s design. Moto-Drones are un-manned motorcycles that can operate in multiple types of response or rescue missions.

  • Image Credit: HONDA
  • Honda R&D Company, Ltd., Advanced Design Studio

    Honda R&D Japan has entered what they call CHiPs 2025 Traffic Crawler. The Traffic Crawler offers sporty mobility to get around congestion, but with the toughness to respond to more severe traffic situations.

    Honda Japan forsees many traffic changes in 2025. In addition to predictable traffic problems, vehicles becoming more fuel efficient will lead to more traffic in the region, free of environmental impact.

  • Image Credit: HONDA
  • Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America

    The consensus is that by 2025, officers will face even more crowded roads with electronically monitored and controlled traffic. A much larger population and changes in human behavior are thought to be the cause. The Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force is an environmentally-friendly, off-road capable SUV, helping police get to where they need to be, wherever that is.

    Could the Ener-G-Force indicate what a futuristic G-Class might look like? Only time will tell.

  • Image Credit: MERCEDES
  • Subaru Research and Development, Inc.

    Subaru’s entrant takes on entirely different terrain. With the grand opening of Hawaii’s new speculated inter-island Paradise Highway in 2025, Subaru thinks their SHARC (Subaru Highway Automated Response Concept) could tackle demands of the future highway. SHARC will be used for 24-hour highway monitoring and rapid emergency response.

    In addition to fuel sustainability, the SHARCs will also be human-sustainable by operating autonomously.

  • Image Credit: SUBARU

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