Chengdu native Wang Jia's hovering "rice ball" vehicle was chosen as one of three winning vehicle concepts by German automaker Volkswagen.
The vehicle is conceived to run via electromagnetic pathways under the road, be emissions-free, and "smart" enough to drive drunk passengers home by itself.
Three winning designs were announced at the Beijing Auto Show in April, and a promotional video depicting the hovering vehicle was released shortly thereafter.
The video shows the vehicle hovering along Chengdu's Taisheng Nan Lu and Renmin Nan Lu, with the designer's parents starring as the lucky citizens who take the vehicle for a test "drive."
Speaking in Chengdu dialect, the elder Wangs command the car to drive them around the city, showing off its various features.
Personality analyst and public speaker Le Jia, creator of the Four-colors Personality Analysis, narrates the video. He also presented Wang Jia with the winner announcement during the Beijing Auto Show in April.
But a month passed before the young designer was introduced to the public, when Tianfu Morning Post interviewed Wang Jia and her parents.
Wang is studying animation design at the department of electronic information at the Chengdu Vocational College of Agricultural Science and Technology, the report said.
A car enthusiast, Wang has created many designs for cars in her spare time. She told the Tianfu Morning Post that after she heard about The People's Car Project, she was excited to finally have a platform to put forth the many ideas she had.
Wang said that she found inspiration for the hovering car design in the goldfish bowl at her family home. "I thought, if a fish can swim with no legs, can a car also drive with no wheels?" she explained. From then on, she dubbed her project "riceball." "I like spherical objects, but also it can maximize space."
Wang's rationale for a hovering vehicle is that it can decrease traffic jams and prevent collisions.
Her interest in cars began at the age of 10. "At that time, when I was riding in somebody else's car, I always thought it was some kind of magical thing. How could it move so quickly?" From then on she observed passing cars on the road closely, making note of their design merits and flaws.
"If one day, this kind of electromagnetic car can be like the electric bikes of today—one per family—in countless households, that would be great!" Wang told the Tianfu Morning Post reporter.
Wang's parents described her as a curious and audacious child. From the time she was six years old, they said, she liked to take things apart to see how they worked: "If she saw anything with screws, she would open it up. When we gave her toy cars or robots, she would immediately take them apart. But she would also put them back together quickly."