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Product design · Generative AI

AI Driven Solutions for a Sustainable Dhaka in 2050

Volvo Car's innovation hub is developing concepts to navigate various future scenarios. In partnership with Hyper Island, they invited us to design an AI-driven concept aimed at enhancing urban life in Dhaka by 2050. Our goal is to align with Volvo’s core values and contribute to a sustainable, circular future.

The Challenge

As the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka is at the heart of rapid urbanization challenges, with over 10 million residents facing traffic jams, inadequate public services, and pollution. Many live on less than $3 a day, heightening concerns about increased urban flooding and water scarcity. These issues, along with housing shortages and overstretched infrastructure, underscore the complexities of managing a megacity's growth. By 2050, as Dhaka expands further, these challenges will likely intensify, pressing the need for sustainable urban development and climate adaptation strategies to safeguard the future of its diverse population.

The Solution

Our team developed an autonomous inflatable modular dam system, designed to quickly mitigate urban flooding. Constructed from recycled car tires, these dams autonomously deploy to form protective barriers along sidewalks and main streets, ensuring uninterrupted mobility. They serve as the city's protective airbag, exemplifying resilience in times of crisis.


Volvo Cars


Product Designer, Design Sprint Facilitator


One month to develop and pitch the concept

Setting the Stage

Timmy Ghiurau, the innovation lead, and Vivek Vivian, a specialist in generative AI and robotics from Volvo’s innovation hub, briefed us on employing Alex McDowell’s “World Building.” This speculative design method involves creating detailed and immersive scenarios or environments that envision future possibilities. It serves as a tool for ideating and strategizing, allowing innovators to explore and address potential challenges and opportunities in a hypothetical yet plausible future world.

The brief tasked us with exploring how Volvo Cars could utilize emerging AI technologies, including generative AI, multimodal AI, and generative agents, to reimagine a typical street corner in Dhaka by 2050. The objective was to develop sustainable innovations that go beyond traditional transportation solutions and enhance urban living.Our team analyzed the primary concerns anticipated for Dhaka’s future residents. A significant issue identified was urban flooding during monsoon seasons, which is compounded by heavy rainfall and inadequate sewer infrastructure. Given the projected increase in rainfall by 2050, Dhaka's susceptibility to urban flooding is expected to intensify.

The Concept

To address the critical issue of urban flooding and its impact on mobility, our team developed an AI-powered autonomous inflatable modular dam system, designed for swift deployment. These dams, equipped with advanced sensors that integrate with Volvo cars’ systems, utilize a multimodal AI approach to predict and respond to impending floods. Upon detection of flood risks, the dams activate automatically, forming barriers that either redirect water to rivers or store it for future use. They also include inflatable emergency shelters.

Constructed from recycled car tires, these dams support a circular economy. Additionally, the system features a generative AI agent that provides real-time safety guidance, vital information, and mental health support during floods, offering a holistic response to such events.

Our aim is to provide Dhaka with an AI-driven solution that not only manages crises but also strengthens community resilience and enhances urban living in the face of environmental challenges.

Wrapping Up

Volvo's participation in this project underscores its commitment to safety, sustainability, and innovation. This collaboration not only boosts Volvo's technological leadership but also enhances its brand through a socially responsible initiative. It advances Volvo's sensor and AI technologies, potentially improving automotive safety features. Additionally, the project increases Volvo's presence in emerging markets, fosters new partnerships, and aligns with its long-term goals of tackling global challenges such as climate change and urban resilience.

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