Stacking Vehicles to "Reinvent Urban Mobility." Or Not.
The Register reports that MIT scientists have unveiled a new, "stacking vehicle" concept which will "reinvent urban mobility." The concept is based on stacks of small vehicles which fold up to stack together into small racks which would be located near subway stations or bus stops. The vehicles would be powered by "wheel robots:" tiny, self-contained, digitally controlled reconfigurable electric motors in each wheel. In theory, the system provides all-wheel power and steering, easy navigation of urban areas and best of all, sideways parking. The vehicles would charge while folded on their racks; the user would "simply take the first fully charged vehicle from the front of the stack." The concept's website states that "The City car is NOT a replacement for personal vehicles, taxis, buses, or trucks; it is a NEW vehicle type that promotes a socially responsible and more effective means of urban mobility." That doesn't conform to automotive safety standards. Never mind. Team leader architecture professor Bill Mitchell say he'd like to see the system in production in three to four years. Team member Christopher Borroni-Bird is a little more skeptical. "What we have is a very intriguing concept. It is certainly a very promising idea," GM's Director of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Concepts said. "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." This from the people who champion E85, the Volt and two-mode hybrids.