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Intelligent Mobility (MA)

Ye Han

I come from Beijing, China. Before coming to the RCA, I earned a bachelor degree of Material Science and Nanoengineering at Rice University in Houston, USA. Switching from an engineering mindset to designer’s perspective has been a very challenging and joyful journey, one that I couldn’t possibly pass without the help from my tutors and fellow students. I received a scholarship from The Pokémon Company which supported me through this graduation project.



Degree Details

School of Design

Intelligent Mobility (MA)

My project “Aql” is an amphibious vehicle for the coastal cities where flooding is becoming a new status quo. My motivation comes from living in Houston, Texas, and happened to experience Hurricane Harvey in 2017. In the aftermath of this historical storm, I participated in the volunteer activity and saw many destroyed houses and cars, some house owners hadn’t even paid off mortgages. Floating residences can be one solution, taking the example of the Amsterdam boathouse and the Urban Rigger project in Copenhagen.

when water swallows the side doors, enter through the hatch door

slide into and out of water

If the living environment changes from completely on land to partly on water, mobility must also adapt. My project aims to understand how mobility under this situation will be and what the vehicle needs to do. Cites are not flat, so a typical trip in a flooded city could involve multiple switches between the waterway and dry land, and the transportation should be able to provide a seamless experience. Therefore, an amphibious vehicle could be the answer. To increase speed in water and minimize erosion from potentially dirty water, the vehicle has several hydrofoil components. On land, the foils can retract into the bottom of the vehicle. Wheels flip upward to avoid contact with water. The vehicle can be entered from the top with a structure similar to the hatch of a boat, or from the side with a common sliding door. This electric-powered vehicle is light enough to float on water, and people can use it as a recreational tool as well (like fishing or sunbathing).

Bay — Cities around the sea have bay areas for ports, natural space to establish floating residences.

Fishing — fishing is a popular form of entertainment in Houston. Or at least one excuse to justify buying a huge pick-up truck to haul a fishing boat.


Since Houston’s best-selling car models have always been pickup trucks, large space and masculinity are obviously highly valued. I took inspiration from crab, a fierce amphibious animal, and designed a form that works with both water and land. Meanwhile, since fishing is one of Houston people’s favorite outdoor activities, Aql is also useful for the transitional period between the aforementioned living environments.

Surely, one wants to think of a future that dramatically changes our current lifestyle. In my mind, Aql is more of a transitional product that can sustain people's needs of both today and the near future. As serious flooding happening in southern China right now, it has become more obvious to me that we have to take a step to embrace water, not fight against it.

Humanity’s existence depends on how well we adapt to environmental change. Making better use of water space is certainly one important direction. Hence, I named the project “Aql”, homonymic to Aqua (without “a”). Also, the abbreviation AQL stands for “lowest acceptable quality of a product”, which I take to vaguely indicate that now is probably the time to seriously consider preparing for coping with rising sea levels.

The Pokémon Company


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