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Monash Art Design & Architecture

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.

Investigators
Dr Robbie Napper
A/Professor Arthur de Bono
Selby Coxon
Peter Elliott

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

Optimus

Rear view of Optimus bus showing integrated tail lamp, new corner bumpers in ABS, and new rubber ride extrusion hinge. Photograph by Nigel Welch.

Optimus

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.

Optimus

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.

Optimus

Exterior front and nearside view of Optimus bus showing new windscreen, front cowl, and integrated headlamps. Photograph by Coventry Studios.

Optimus

Intersection of rear tailgate, centre and corner bumpers, and integrated tail lamp (detail).

Optimus

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

Optimus wheelarch cover. Upper and lower sections in PC-ABS with luggage area shown integrated into handrail system.

Optimus

Optimus interior ceiling view showing upper components of handrail system and programmable indirect LED lighting system.

Optimus

Initial bodywork prototype build stage – exterior panels. Intersection of front cowl upper and lower portions prior to painting.

Optimus

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.

Optimus

Front of prototype bus prior to windscreen, windscreen wiper, and headlamp installation.

Optimus

Rear of prototype bus prior to painting and lamp installation; showing different base materials for fibreglass rear cowl, plastic bumpers and aluminium tailgate.

Optimus

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.

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