The Petersen Museum, in Los Angeles, is dedicated to cars in all their glory and history. The museum has been remodeled to reflect the latest advances in design and technology, with a new exterior of curved steel ribbons and led lights over a hot rod red building that shines like car exteriors.
An entire floor of the museum demonstrates automotive design and technology, showing how cars are modified for speed and efficiency. Visitors learn what is like to work in the car industry and watch automotive design students as they design the next generation of transportation. The technology at the museum doesn’t just show car design but allows visitors use technology to learn the mechanics of cars at the Cars Mechanical Institute.
Based on characters from the Pixar Cars movie, the Cars Mechanical Institute offers interactive ways for visitors to understand the mechanics of car technology through interactive displays and other fun means.
“At the Cars Mechanical Institute kids can learn about how a car actually works, but not how a car works but the cars they love from the film Cars,” said Jay Ward, Cars Creative Director at Pixar Animation Studios.
Vistors can checkout “CARSpad” tablets in the Cars Mechanical Institute. Users are guided by Cars‘ characters through a race car design experience. The interactive CARSPad app takes users through the process of designing a race car, picking body designs, engines, drive trains and bio fuel to design a car of their very own. The characters in the app were animated by Pixar and voiced by the original voice actors.
Each one the characters that helps you build the car are characters that know intrinsically how a car works. Luigi tells about tires and suspension, Flo teaches about style and design. Sally teaches about aerodynamics. Fillmore talks about fuel, and Ramon teaches about customizing. The Cars characters teach what they know best says Ward.
The CARSPad tablet works as a magic windshield. The user places the iPad camera over a symbol in the museum and the characters show features of the car design process allowing the user makes his/her own choices in the app. Users are introduced to the augmented reality experience by Tow Mater the tow truck.
Symbols are located throughout the floor, the user is asked to pick a race car body type by Flo, in front of a design studio where students from Art Center are designing cars. The app is designed to help teach aerodynamics and drag co-efficent of vehicles. At the alternative fuels area, the CARSpad guides users through how bio fuels are made by Fillmore the Volkswagen bus.
After designing a car of their own, the users can see their very-own car on a pedestal just like the cars in the museum. They can take their car on a drive on an animated racetrack to see how their design works.
At the gallery of the Cars Mechanical Institute, Lightning McQueen’s inner workings are on display in clear cases with large touchscreens that light up different part of the engine, drivetrain, brakes or suspension.
One interactive exhibit shows how a car starts with each button on the screen corresponding to a part of the engine system. At the drivetrain station visitors can spin a flywheel up and select different gears on a digital transmission to see how gear ratios affect wheel speed. At the suspension station visitors can hold a throttle button to spin up a brake rotor and then press and hold a caliper button to actuate the brakes.
At the Cars Mechanical Institute’s paint and body table, visitors can digitally paint and apply decals to a car of their choosing, trace cars at the tracing station, or color their car by hand any way they like at the open table. At the racetrack station, kids of all ages can play with Cars toy models. Everyone can pose for a photo op or a selfie with a life-size Lightning McQueen.
The learning experience at the Petersen Automotive Museum and the Cars Mechanical Institute can be beneficial for years to come.
“When the kids grow up they will know a lot more, and maybe not be taken by a mechanic, which is a good thing,” commented Ward.