HW-DriftnBrake-card

When Will We See the First AI-Designed Diecast?

Ron Ruelle model car hall of fame
by Ron Ruelle

Artificial Intelligence is everywhere these days, or at least it’s all over the media and marketing world. Professional creators are taking the shortcut of using prompts from this software, or just flat-out turning in the results as their own efforts. 

“Artificial Intelligence” has become such a buzzword over the last few years that its use is starting to feel, well, artificial. When colas and tax preparation companies boast that they use AI in their products, it’s time to either cower in fear or roll your eyes.

Which brings us to this question: when will we see the first diecast design proudly touted as “Designed by AI?” 

Over the last half-century, companies like Matchbox,  Johnny Lightning, and Mattel have churned out a combination of faithful miniature reproductions, mild customs, wild caricatures of existing cars, and generic unlicensed autos.

And of course, all those fantasy designs ranging from implausible to incomprehensible when it comes to any sort of feasibility of function. They’re just toys of, course (or, valuable collectibles, if you prefer), so they don’t have to work. Many of these concepts could have easily come from the doodles of a five-year-old and translated directly to ZAMAC. 

HW-DriftnBrake

But talented designers sketched and sculpted those creations out of thin air. Even with the advent of CAD, it took the heart and vision of an artist to make these designs come to life. Same thing with the advent of 3D printing.

But these days, such a car also could be designed by computers and robots that have a less-than-complete sense of how a car works. In other words, these designs could easily be created by AI. Look, I’m not saying that’s the case, but you know it has to be coming, right?

I recently came across a Hot Wheels car called Drift n Brake. It’s a generic wagon, kind of futuristic, kind of randomly lumpy. It looks like all cars and none at the same time. It’s an interesting design, but it doesn’t stir my soul for some reason. The designer of that car is listed as “Hot Wheels.” Not an individual, but just the company. Many cars have been credited the same over the years as well. So when do you think we’ll see that first example of AI in small scale?

Hot Wheels custom otto

Over 50 years ago, an artist named Otto Kuhni created a generic American sporty coupe, very contemporary, all cars, yet none at the same time. But his design had soul and seemed like it could be a real car. It graced the package of every single early Hot Wheels Redline model. Eventually, it did become a 1/64 model, the Custom Otto. It took 40 years to come to fruition, not a few seconds. And the final result does indeed have soul.

I don’t mean to criticize the Drift n Brake. It’s kind of a neat design. But if you told me a computer came up with it without help, I might believe it. So one wonders, when will we see that first AI car? Or have we already seen it and just didn’t notice?

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