The car, which has been in development since 2014, is a fully-functional vehicle, complete with a scalable platform capable of housing pure-electric, internal-combustion or plug-in hybrid propulsion systems with minimal modifications.
Deep Orange 7 is actually made up of four separate modules: a base platform, rear section, front section and a roof unit. By packaging each section into a neat 'module', the students say they've made production easier and opened the door for different body styles, including a convertible.
In the case of hybrid or pure-electric versions, the motors are cooled through vents in the base of the doors for a cleaner front end. As well as adding a dash of supercar flair to the design, the team says the decision frees up more storage space at the front of the car.
Rather than a conventional bonnet and windscreen, the car has a hinged windscreen running all the way to its nose for an open, airy feeling throughout the cabin. The dashboard ‘floats’ in front of the driver, while the space in front of it can be used to store one's gear with an aftermarket ‘Origami Storage’ system.
The students also suggest the glass front compartment could be used as a display area for valuable or interesting items – like a giant version of the ‘Gallery’ from the Rolls-Royce Phantom dashboard, maybe?
Speaking of the dashboard, the Clemson students have dumped the conventional instrument binnacle and center stack in favour of something they’re calling Mini Face.
The holographic display is designed to anticipate what the driver will need, and always have the right information on hand. Key info is presented in the foreground, with lesser details relegated to the background of the display. Users interact with the system using gesture control.
Although holographic displays might sound a bit pie-in-the-sky, it’s something BMW has been exploring through its Vision concepts in past. And let’s not forget, gesture control is optional on the 5 Series, though its effectiveness is questionable at times.
Above: the wide-open interior of the Mini Vision Next 100 Concept, launched last year
When the car is stopped, the car will use its exterior lights to guide other drivers into their parking spot, like a giant third-party parking assistant. In theory, this should help avoid annoying scrapes when you’re parked on the street. The distinctive green paint and lights on the exterior can extend their reach over the windows, too, for a touch of privacy in the cabin during autonomous driving.
As for the overall look? We'll let you be the judge, but it certainly isn't conventionally beautiful... Still, at least it's interesting?
“Working with the students in the Deep Orange 7 project was a wonderful experience,” said Julian Weber, one-time head of Innovation Projects E-Mobility at BMW in Munich. “They worked really hard and showed creativity and professionalism at the same time.”
“The resulting vehicle is a huge step forward is a huge step forward and showcases very interesting solutions.”