Exterior front and offside view of Optimus bus showing new windscreen, front cowl, and integrated headlamps. Photograph by Coventry Studios.
Improving Volgren’s route bus manufacturing, performance and user experience using holistic design.
“MADA’s design creativity and industrial design expertise supplemented Volgren’s engineering team perfectly, providing a fresh perspective to the product design process.” – Michael Kearney, Engineering Manager of Volgren
The Optimus team redesigned Volgren’s core product, taking into account user needs and applying mass customisation principles, while using standardised designs where possible. The MADA team documented Volgren’s complex requirements into a product design specification. This resulted in the generation of new concepts which were primarily functional but also visually appealing. The concepts were then refined into production-ready components and MADA’s recommendations were incorporated into their standard manufacturing process. Dr Robbie Napper says “the wide range of stakeholders in the bus design, from depot mechanics to passengers, led to a complex set of product requirements. We applied a rigorous approach to the data and through studio research the results were taken all the way to a functional prototype vehicle that is now in national production.”
The strong relationship between MADA and Volgren has continued well past the Optimus project, testimony to the value of bringing together complementary skillsets from both organisations.
Research team Peter Farrer Pouya Bagheri Michael Mills Ilya Fridman John Hoogendoorn Ashan Perera Matthew Glenn Cameron Glover Mandy Shuk Man Lau Jesse De Wald Nicholas Carnie Jessica Cassar Kieran John Jack Martinich Vincent Moug
Consultants Dominic Lamanna, Design Reality Joseph Ganino, Design Reality
Partner organisation Volgren Australia, PTY, LTD
Rear view of Optimus bus showing integrated tail lamp, new corner bumpers in ABS, and new rubber ride extrusion hinge. Photograph by Nigel Welch.
Interior view of Optimus bus taken from front axle line facing backwards. Wheelarch covers in foreground, new handrail system, ceiling lighting and window trims visible. Photograph by Nigel Welch.
Interior view of Optimus bus taken from front axle line facing backwards. New handrail system, ceiling lighting and window trims visible. Photograph by Nigel Welch.
Exterior front and nearside view of Optimus bus showing new windscreen, front cowl, and integrated headlamps. Photograph by Coventry Studios.
Intersection of rear tailgate, centre and corner bumpers, and integrated tail lamp (detail).
Optimus driver’s area view forward from front axle line. Integrated optional driver’s door and security screen, occupant grab rails, ABS plastic lower section with smooth integration into upper polycarbonate protection screen. New instrument panel also visible.
Optimus wheelarch cover. Upper and lower sections in PC-ABS with luggage area shown integrated into handrail system.
Optimus interior ceiling view showing upper components of handrail system and programmable indirect LED lighting system.
Initial bodywork prototype build stage – exterior panels. Intersection of front cowl upper and lower portions prior to painting.
Insertion of new hinge rubber into new aluminium extrusion for side hinged panel mounting. The rubber hinge uses a new self-seating geometry to aid in quality assembly and panel security.
Front of prototype bus prior to windscreen, windscreen wiper, and headlamp installation.
Rear of prototype bus prior to painting and lamp installation; showing different base materials for fibreglass rear cowl, plastic bumpers and aluminium tailgate.
Fibreglass front cowl and plastic centre access panel – testing for fit and panel break visual tolerance prior to installation on prototype bus and painting.
MADA researchers from varied backgrounds, including professional artists, designers, architects and theorists, work together to produce vibrant, innovative, creative research that addresses the social, economic and human issues facing Australia.