(from Toyota Press Release)
In the year 2054, some cars will be self-cleaning, some will drive in an
accident free system, and some will change colors on command.
At least that's the vision of the future in Steven Spielberg's upcoming
film "Minority Report," starring Tom Cruise. The film, based on a short
story by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, is an action-detective
thriller set in Washington, D.C. in 2054, where police utilize a psychic
technology to arrest and convict murderers before they commit their
crime. Tom Cruise plays the head of this precrime unit and is himself
accused of the future murder of a man he hasn't even met.
When it came time to conceptualize automotive transportation for the
futuristic setting, Spielberg turned to Lexus as a potential partner.
"I've been driving a Lexus SUV," Spielberg said. "And I thought Lexus
might be interested in going into a speculative future to see what the
transportation systems and cars would look like on our highways in 50
years. The result of that exploration is something that elevates and
transforms driving into an environmental experience."
Imagining the Future
Conceptualizing and creating the film's
2054 setting - including its transportation systems - began nearly three
years ago. From the outset, Spielberg wasn't interested in creating a
fantastical science fiction film but, rather, a future reality film. The
first step was to call together a diverse team of designers and
futurists to speculate on what the year 2054 might actually look like.
Among the participants were conceptual artist Harald Belker and
representatives from Calty, the Toyota/Lexus design studio in Southern
Discussions were wide-ranging and included topics such as the future of
medical advancements, social theories, defense issues, advertising,
infrastructure, technology, workplace and household appliances, and of
course, cars. There was talk of new inventions, including iris
colorants, anti-boredom gelcaps, additional alphabet letters, spray
meat, and magnetic levitation transportation systems.
These early sessions would inform much of the design of the futuristic
world of "Minority Report." Belker - whose film credits include "Batman
& Robin," "Inspector Gadget" and "Armageddon" – was commissioned to
design the film's vehicles, including cars for a vast urban magnetic
levitation (MAG-LEV) system, as well as an individual off-system car for
driving outside the city. Lexus provided design and luxury cues for the
cars, and gave Belker the lowdown on advanced interior technology. "That
sophisticated, forward thinking for cars is really a hallmark of Lexus,"
The MAG-LEV System
In the film's design for its Washington,
DC setting circa 2054, a mass transportation system uses
electrical/magnetic energy - much like that which sends a bullet train
speeding along - with horizontal and vertical surfaces covered with
"roadways" made of magnetic discs that support and propel various
vehicles. In this accident-free, computer-controlled system, vehicles
move at speeds of 80 to 100 miles per hour. In the city's transportation
layout, private pods, taxis and multi-passenger cars all negotiate the
MAG-LEV system. As cars travel, they make seamless transitions between
vertical and horizontal surfaces.
"We discussed how a future goal will be individual transportation within
a mass transport system," says Belker. "The discussion gravitated from
traveling in personal cabins, into the direction of a futuristic car
which works on a MAG-LEV system – something between a capsule and a
The result is a car which travels up an apartment building, for example,
to "dock" at a person's residence. Once there, a door slides open that
doubles as a living room window; at that point, the car’s seats can even
provide additional seating in the living room. While parked, the car
performs maintenance checks, auto-repairs, recharges and self cleans.
When residents enter their car to depart back onto the system, they are
essentially stepping from the living room into another room of the
house. In fact, inside the car, the seats and furnishings bear more
relation to a room environment than a car. Highly-styled, comfortable
seats conform to individual bodies; seating configurations can be
changed so passengers can face forward or each other. The entire
environment lends itself to a video screen which allows the "driver" to
perform a multitude of functions. . .none of which has to do with
The Off-System Sports
For scenes calling for Cruise's character
to drive outside the city limits, a radical red off-system sports car
was designed and tailor-built to fit the star. While this car isn't
likely to be on Lexus showroom floors in 2054, the red Lexus sports
coupe is more similar to present-day vehicles-featuring the familiar
four wheels and designed to be driven on a traditional road system. In
designing the sports car, Belker says, "the goal was to create something
unlike anything seen before, and really give it the 'WOW!' effect. We
set out to have a lot of fun with it for a big bang impact."
In the end, this futuristic Lexus - designed as a high-performance,
two-seat personal sports car - flexes a muscular design with the
ultimate in cab-forward seating; a low, enclosed wheelbase for
sportiness; aggressive lines, and proportions so unexpected that, at
first glance, it's not entirely evident which end is the front and which
is the rear.
Conceptually, this sports car features an electric engine, heads-up
instrumentation with night vision and organic recognition capability,
color-selectable body panels (changeable with a simple owner voice
command), DNA recognition entry and ignition system, and auto valet - a
feature that allows the car to drop the owner off at a desired location,
park itself for recharging, and arrive for owner pick-up at the
Making the cars. .
.from abstract to "action!"
Once the vehicle needs for the film were
identified, Belker started sketching, creating fairly tight
illustrations which would first be presented to production designer Alex
McDowell ("Fight Club," "The Crow") and then, Spielberg. Spielberg would
provide his input, make suggestions and modifications, and Belker would
incorporate his notes in a fresh design.
From the approved sketches and renderings, Belker and his staff built
3-D models, pacing themselves quickly to meet deadlines. Being handed
several sketches of different pieces each morning - such as knobs,
seats, wheels, windshields - Belker's designers would model through the
afternoon. By the next day they would ship out the model and e-mail the
blueprint of another piece to CTEK, the Santa Ana, California-based
technology design and development firm chosen to construct the cars.
Of course, Belker says, part of the process was picking out features
like fabric and colors. "Since Lexus is all about luxury and comfort, we
had to meet those standards as well. . . although sometimes in movie
cars, it’s more about the look than the actual cushiness."
When the designs got to CTEK, the engineering department would sort out
demands for such facets as metal and electrical components. Then, when
the 3-D models were turned in, CTEK would build the vehicles to
Each vehicle had certain requirements. In the case of the red off-system
sports car, it had to be fully-electric and maintain 70 miles per hour
for stretches of time. Even though, in automotive parlance, that car was
deemed a "concept car," it had to be functional: doors had to open, the
steering wheel had to tilt, seats had to recline. And of course, to
reach top velocity and perform on-screen as well as it does, the coupe -
powered by 47 batteries and an all-electric motor - required an intact
four speed standard shift with reverse. Post-production
computer-generated special effects create the coupe's futuristic
instrumentation, including a "heads-up display" (an on-windshield
projection providing a clear view of controls and gauges a driver would
typically have to look down for).
For the MAG-LEV vehicle, rotating pods substitute for wheels. Swiveling
seats were installed to enable driving from either end. The vehicle has
a full-glass roof, which is on prominent display during some chase
scenes, and doors that, similar to sliding glass doors, open from the
center to allow the occupant to step out. In the film, Cruise's MAG-LEV
is a jade green with tinted glass on the sides as well as the roof. As
with the coupe, the heads-up display images are also computer generated
in this model.
In the case of both cars, luxurious touches were added inside with wood
grain paneling, leather wrapped interiors, and glistening screens.
In all, these two vehicles - along with a dozen other background
vehicles - were created from sketch to completion in about two months to
become the fully-appointed, fully-functional Lexus road-stars of
As "Minority Report" premieres, Belker reflects on his work on this
"dream project." "I regard this movie as the 'Blade Runner' for my
generation, so I would have given anything to work on it. And then, on
top of that, having Lexus' involvement ensured everything came together
perfectly during the different phases of exterior and interior design
and construction. They're an ideal partner."
Engine: Smart recharging
Wheelbase: 106 in.
Length: 146 in.
Width: 82 in.
Curb Weight: 2300 lbs.
Chassis: Carbon Fiber & Titanium Composite Monocoque
Suspension: Titanium Composite, Fully-Independent Double-Wishbone with
Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), Speed-Sensitive Automatic Height
Brakes: Computer-Controlled, Servo/Electronic, Ceramic Hybrid Discs, and
Regenerative Electric System to charge all Systems.
Wheels and Tires: 6-Spoke, Titanium Alloy, C-TEK Wheels, 22x9.5-inch
with 285/30R22, High-Speed Run-Flat Tires
Heads-Up instrumentation with Night
Vision and Organic Recognition capability
Color-impregnated, carbon composite body
panels with dent-resistant memory
Body conforming bucket seats with
automatic heating and cooling functions
Laser Guided Cruise Control
Stereolithography formed body panels
Body panels color selectable by owner
All systems fully computer-controlled
with Voice-Activated and
All rearward vision via cameras rather
Sonar Parking Assist
Switchable-tint glass all-around with
solar panel glass in roof
Retractable solar body panels for
recharging and interior climate control during parking
Information system display doubles as
owner-recognizable personal computer
DNA Recognition Entry and Ignition
System: Via sensory intelligence, the system allows owner to enter and
Accident Avoidance System: Infrared
technology senses what's ahead to warn of impending danger. Sonar
parking assist and rearward vision cameras. Dent resistant memory metal
protects exterior from dents and/or scratches.
Self-Diagnosis System: Car automatically
detects and alerts any mechanical or electrical problems.
Voice-Activated Concierge Service will schedule necessary service
appointments. A Lexus representative will travel to owner’s preferred
location to service the car.
Auto Valet: Once the car drops the owner
off, it then parks to recharge (its retractable solar body panels
automatically adjust to accommodate recharging). Upon remote command,
the car will arrive at requested location.
Global Digital Entertainment System (with
Universal Translator and Personal Digital Recorder): Comprehensive music
library, archived with a global directory; updates daily via cyber
connection. The PDR automatically records shows via request (similar to
TiVo today). The system alerts to breaking news, weather, stock, and/or
sports reports based on personal profile data.
Voice-Activated Concierge Service (with
Internet Search): Reserves restaurant, hotel and entertainment events
via voice command.
Weather Sensitive Response System: Solar panel triggers automatic window
tint, adjusting the level of bright light to the driver's sensitivity.
Tire traction adjusts automatically to road conditions.