Persona by Tae Ho Yoon, USA

2007: Sharing the Road.

Drawings on Display at Michelin Challenge Design™


During my boyhood in Seoul, Korea, modes of transportation was all about my daily life. I have indulged in all sorts of modes of transportation; from subway cars of Seoul Metroline to Seoul city buses to fighter jets and finally to supercars. Dreams of being a transportation designer ended when my father forced me to go to an engineering school. Having went through several careers and jobs that didn’t go anywhere for the past ten years, I came to a realization a year ago during a trip to Seoul, Korea. Visiting the city where I grew up day dreaming about designing cars and buses and trains, I realized that I had to become a transportation designer before it became too late. So I am currently preparing a portfolio to go to art school.

Ten years ago at the time of graduating from high school, my idol was Marcello Ghandini and my favorite automobile design was the Ferrari Testarossa. Now, my idol is Peter Schreyer, who has captured the hearts of many middle class people worldwide with his Bauhaus approach. My favorite automobile designs are the Infinity FX SUV and Honda Fit for their groundbreaking concept that enabled them to be much more than what they are. It seems like that my past ten years were gone in vein but, it was not a complete waste for I gained much broader view of the automobile.

Supercars don’t interest me anymore, while Mercedes R class interests me much more. I spend every single minute these days thinking why people buy cars like the Nissan Cube and what makes people say that the boxy Toyota FJ Cruiser is so stylish. I would not have done these kinds of critical thinking ten years ago. Ultimately, I learned that the mobility is not part of life, it is the life.


Prevention is the best safety! Ever since the invention of the automobile, improvements on automotive safety mostly focused on minimizing crash impact and consequential body injuries. Unlike this traditional axiom of automotive safety, the Persona tries to make sure that the accident does not occur. For this purpose, the Persona takes in charge of some of the traditional functions that humans have performed in the cockpit of an automobile.

The first function that Persona performs on behalf of its driver is situational awareness. The Persona performs this task with its onboard radar and a mobile network infrastructure called “Network On The Road”. While the onboard radar keeps its eyes on its surrounding areas, the Network on the Road exchanges safety related information like speed, distance, heading, road conditions, with other neighboring vehicles The onboard radar and the Network on the Road validates and supplements each other’s data for the best accuracy.

The second preventive safety function that Persona performs for its driver is reading its driver’s brainwave and deciphering his or her intention. When a vehicle travels more than 100 feet within a second, even the fastest reflex is too slow to translate its driver’s thinking into actual control input. This delay in control input happens because the driver’s thinking has to go through many parts of his body before it finally arrives at the vehicle’s steering wheel, gas pedal or brake. The Persona translates the driver’s thinking into actual vehicle control input by reading his or her brainwave pattern. All that the driver needs to do is to think what he or she wants to do. As soon as he or she thinks, the Persona carries out the function that the driver intended to do.

Despite these preventative measures, accidents will occur. When an accident does occur, the Persona minimizes the magnitude of the crash and body injuries by deploying airbags located on the exterior of the vehicle, therefore, using the airbag as a cushion between itself and another vehicle. The onboard radar and the Network on the Road will determine the size of airbag deployment and speed to prepare for impact with many different types of objects ranging from pedestrian to trucks. Therefore, Persona’s exterior airbag system protects Persona, itself; it also protects pedestrians and other vehicles it comes in contact with. The Persona is a concept built on a totally different type of thinking; the type of thinking that is so crucial for the safety yet had been neglected for a long time.