the car lover's approach to curbing gridclok
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
"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)