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the car lover's approach to curbing gridclok

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  • Justin Hyatt
    Hi, I just read this in the news today: foldable cars to tackle parking issues. wow, now really everyone can own a car and park it all over the place, no
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 8, 2008
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      I just read this in the news today: foldable cars to tackle parking
      issues. wow, now really everyone can own a car and park it all over
      the place, no matter how congested their city


      MIT tackles urban gridlock with foldable car idea

      By Allyn Fisher-Ilan Fri Mar 7, 4:40 PM ET

      CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Wouldn't it be nice to drive a
      car into town without worrying about finding a parking space?

      Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised
      just such a vehicle, a futuristic "City Car" that could even drive

      Once at your destination, the vehicle's computers would, at the press
      of a button, look for a parking spot behind others like itself, then
      fold roughly in half so you could stack it there as you would a
      shopping cart.

      "We have reinvented urban mobility," said Bill Mitchell, a professor
      in architecture and director of the project at an MIT think tank in
      Cambridge, just outside Boston.

      The vehicle hasn't yet been built. But a miniature mock-up version has
      gone on display at a campus museum, and there are plans to build a
      full-scale model this spring.

      The dozen or so engineers and architects on Mitchell's team are
      confident their computer-generated work is on target.

      They feel their golf cart-sized vehicle could provide a novel solution
      to the chronic traffic congestion afflicting cities across the United
      States, Europe and Asia -- not to mention pollution and energy use,
      since it would run on a rechargeable battery, the researchers say.

      On the drawing board, their two-seater is roughly half the size of a
      typical compact automobile and a little smaller than the Smart car
      made by Daimler's Mercedes-Benz.

      "It's a virtual computer on wheels," said Franco Vairani, designer of
      the vehicle's foldable frame, which he predicts will shrink the car to
      as little as an eighth the space needed to park the average car. While
      parked, it would hook up to an electricity grid for recharging, he

      Hundreds could be stacked around a city and "you would just go and
      swipe your (credit) card and take the first one available and drive
      away," Vairani said, seated by his computerized drawing board.

      People wouldn't have to worry about where to park their cars in town
      and automobiles would take up less urban space, leaving more room for
      parks and walkways, he added.

      Peter Schmitt, a team engineer, says the car would have independently
      powered robotic wheels and be controlled using a computerized
      drive-by-wire system with a button or joystick.

      Mitchell said he would like to bring the car to the manufacturing
      stage within the next three to four years.

      But a key consultant for the project, Christopher Borroni-Bird,
      director of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Concepts at U.S. automaker
      General Motors Corp, said he doesn't think City Car is quite ready yet
      for the road.

      "What we have is a very intriguing concept," Borroni-Bird told Reuters
      in a telephone interview. "It is certainly a very promising idea, but
      I don't want to say it is ready for production ... there's still a lot
      of work yet to take it from concept to production."

      (Editing by Eric Walsh)
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