Friday, February 8, 2008

Car of the Future?

Time Magazine named the City Car (a concept from MIT's Media Lab) one of the best inventions of 2007.

"Aiming for the sweet spot between the comfort of a private vehicle and the efficiency of public transportation, the City Car from MIT's Media Lab is a stackable electric car that can be checked out like a luggage cart at the airport, then returned to any station around the city. Electric motors in each wheel eliminate the need for a mechanical drivetrain, and these 5-ft.-long (1.5 m) two-seaters zip along at 55 m.p.h. (about 90 km/h)." Time Inc.

By placing stacks in urban spaces and key points of convergence, the vehicle allows the citizens the flexibility to combine mass transit effectively with individualized mobility. The stack receives incoming vehicles and electrically charges them. Similar to luggage carts at the airport, users simply take the first fully charged vehicle at the front of the stack. The City car utilizes fully integrated in-wheel electric motors and suspension systems called, "Wheel Robots." The wheel robots eliminate the need traditional drive train configurations like engine blocks, gear boxes, and differentials because they are self-contained, digitally controlled, and reconfigurable. Additionally, the wheel robot provides all wheel power and steering capable of 360 degrees of movement, thus allowing for Omni-directional movement. The vehicle can maneuver in tight urban spaces and park by sideways translation. This technology is patented-pending and under design development at the MIT Media Lab.

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