Josh Weinstein Design

Ultium Spot

How can electric car ownership be more accessible to people with mobility challenges?

Project sponsored by General Motors

Autonomous car technology will make driving more accessible to people with mobility challenges. Ultium Spot is a robot designed to make the other aspects of electric car ownership accessible for these customers by automating home car charging and driveway maintenance.


Understanding the Brand

Ultium is an electric vehicle platform developed by General Motors for all their upcoming electric vehicles, with the goal of bringing the electric car to everybody. GM sponsored a class at Pratt Institute to find innovative charging solutions and product designs for an Ultium product that can pair with any GM electric vehicle.

The Problem

Creating Personas

I created personas to better understand the needs of my target user group. They have mobility challenges from old age and disability, increasing their difficulty of operating traditional electric car chargers and keeping their driveway clear of debris on their own.

"The majority (61%) of older and disabled people – including individuals suffering from arthritis, muscle disease or impaired motor control, or recovering from a stroke – have an appetite for owning an EV but are put off by the prospect of charging difficulties."

Research Institute for Disabled Consumers

Persona – Michael Jacobson (75)

"I have arthritis in my hands and I’ve been having trouble remembering things. I wish I didn’t have to remember to charge my car.”

Super Cruise on Michael's Cadillac Lyriq makes driving easier, but arthritis in his hands has made it difficult for him to use his home charger. The car is not charged when he forgets to plug it in. He needs a charging experience as innovative as his car and an easy to use interface to control the car charging.

Persona – Jessica Rose (30)

"As a wheel chair user, it is difficult to rake the leaves on my driveway, and it is expensive to keep paying for a service.”

Jessica relies on her car to get to work, run errands, and travel. Paralysis in her left leg means she uses a wheelchair and walker. She can’t easily use a rake or leaf blower to clear her driveway, but paying for a service is expensive. She needs an automated way to clear her driveway and a simple interface to control the device.

Ideate and Prototype

Sketches and Scale Models

Ideation explores design possibilities while keeping in mind the needs of the users. Sketching and scale modeling allowed for a broad exploration of different forms.

Sketches explore a variety of forms

3D printed scale models

Foam half-scale model

Concept sketches refine the design direction

Final Design

Ultium Spot is designed to pair well with any General Motors electric car. The three lines with a blue accent impressed into the top surface incorporate the Ultium branding.

Ultium Spot charges wirelessly in its dock, and when docked it wirelessly charges the car parked above. When the car leaves, or as scheduled, Ultium Spot undocks and autonomously clears their driveway of leaves, debris, and small amounts of snow. The user controls the schedule and can check the status of the device with their phone.

Detail view shows air intake, status lights, and the back-up manual power button and covered manual charge port.


Appearance Model

The final physical appearance model is made from pink foam using a CNC machine and conveys the scale and surfacing of the final design.