City Car: A New Design Approach Enabling Urban Mobility

Paper #:
  • 2006-21-0076

Published:
  • 2006-10-16
Abstract:

The City Car is a stackable, sharable, electric two-passenger urban vehicle. The one-way sharable user model is designed to be used in dense urban areas. Vehicle Stacks will be placed throughout the city to create an urban transportation network that takes advantage of existing transportation infrastructures such as subway, commuter and bus lines. By placing stacks in urban spaces and key points of convergence, the vehicle allows the citizens of the city 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 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.

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 internal-combustion engines, gear boxes, and differentials because they are self-contained, modular, digitally controlled, and reconfigurable. Additionally, the Wheel Robot provides all wheel power and steering capable of 360 degrees of rotation, thus allowing for Omni-directional movement. The vehicle can maneuver in tight urban spaces and park by sideways translation. This highly modular architecture allows for the design and manufacture of highly customizable passenger cabins that are freed from traditional drive-train and powerplant constraints. Both the City Car and Wheel Robots concept are under design and engineering development within the Smart Cities group at the MIT Media Lab.

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