Named after the ancient Greek word for “Public Square”, Agora E is an autonomous pod-like vehicle aiming to promote in-person socialization. Envisioned by Ponti Design Studio in Hong Kong, the concept draws from previous designs of the firm, such as Island, a futuristic double-decker tram. Just like Island, Agora E revolves around the idea of bringing together an autonomous form of transportation and the opportunity to socialize with fellow humans in a growingly technological society.
Yet while Island incorporated elements of the 2020 zeitgeist, with a central aisle that would let people flow freely in the streetcar while maintaining adequate distance, Agora spurs from a more post-pandemic approach. The autonomous electric vehicle’s main feature is a continuous circular seat that invites people to sit inwards, looking at each other, and possibly fostering social interactions. The seat also leaves a central open space for wheelchairs, standing passengers, or luggage.
Agora E is as much a thought experiment about mobility as it is a reflection on the future of societies in densely populated megacities. As Ponti puts it, it’s a vision for “the future of public mobility in Hong Kong and the densely populated cities of Southern China. With in-person social interaction becoming more of a fleeting thought in the past few years, Agora E allows us to rediscover and appreciate the importance of human interaction in public spaces.”