17.09.2018——19.09.2018

OMG: build your own self-driving car

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Hackers & Designers teamed up with French collective Formes Vives to create the next iteration of the DIY self-driving car.

During a unique 3 day collective endeavour we designed and built our own autonomous vehicles at the repurposed yellow gas station in Amsterdam Noord.

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Together we continued our investigation on what it takes to build a DIY self-driving car. While experimenting with accessible technology in and around the self-driving car in a hands-on and playful manner and simultaneously discuss ethical and philosophical dimensions as well as societal implications deriving from our reliance on ubiquitous technology today.

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By inviting Formes Vives and their expertise in building rolling parade objects we aimed to increase our first prototype in size, smartness, and flamboyance.

Participation was free

You could sign up by sending an email to info@hackersanddesigners.nl.

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You had to bring:

  • Yourself
  • Your computer
  • Sensors & Arduinos (if you have)
  • Wheels
  • French skills (if you have)
  • Prototyping material: wires, paper mache, paint, brushes, pipes, tools…

No prior knowledge was required

On the first day we divided into groups and worked on different iterations of the self-driving toy car workshop that Heerko van der Kooij developed these last months:

  • The small toy car for beginners by following this tutorial could follow a line with a sensor and a simple line of code.
  • The big toy car for those who already had experience with the workshops brought challenges to adapt the method of the small car for a bigger car with a bigger motor and a heavier car. One sensor was not enough to follow a line.
  • The medium size car was a more advanced iteration using machine learning. The car could learn a route and repeat it.

On the second day Formes Vives took the lead and proposed to imagine a wide variation of prototypes for these self-driving vehicles thinking of landscape, architecture and mobility. We made sketches talked about them and made some groups to start prototyping models that could fit on our toy cars.

On the last day we brought everything together finilasing the code and the shells. We finished the day by introducing to each other those strange vehicles!

What did we build?

  • A self-driving road
  • A self-driving communist chair
  • A self-driving park
  • A self-driving blob
  • A self-driving climate change survivor train


What more could it be?

  • A bus
  • A convertible
  • An offroad jeep
  • A sleazy limousine
  • An amphicar
  • A machine
  • A carriage
  • An aerocar
  • A family station wagon
  • A trailer
  • A wreck?
  • A hoverboard?
  • A spaceship?

A short presentation of Formes Vives' work during the workshop:


Formes Vives: “Over time, a lot of people leave. They disappear from their own life and they desire only reasonable things.” — Christian Bobin

From the 17th-19th of September 2018 we were invited by the Hackers & Designers collective to participate in a new version of their self-initiated self-driving-car workshop (supported by public funding). With the members of Hackers & Designers and a small group of (mainly design) students, we did a little bit of toy hacking using a combination of arduino and our imaginations, which equalled a nice meeting and some funny prototypes.

Hackers & Designers is a project that aims to appropriate new technologies and their possibilities for artists, designers and citizens to use outside of commissioned work and realistic economic outcomes. It combines a strong desire for DIY, critical awareness, and collective experiences.

This workshop was a new episode of our series of works around cars—both soap box and strange-rolling-low-cost constructions. We were invited to add a pinch of madness to their workshop research on this fascinating self-driving car.

Read Formes Vives report and find more images on their blog!


Published in Fake it! Fake them! Fake you! Fake us! Publication in 2019