jueves, 23 de julio de 2015

A smarter future car

Around the world, cities are beginning to choke on their own traffic. In Boston, scientists at the famous Media Lab at MIT are working on a prototype of a different electric car.

Self-study activity:
Watch the video and now down the revolutionary features of this electric car.

Around the world, cities are beginning to choke on their own traffic. Yet, existing public transport has some frustrating flaws. Well, today, I came by train to avoid the rush hour, freeway, car park. Unfortunately, it's dropped me about 3km from where I want to go and it's about to rain. Wouldn't it be great if I could just pick up a little car here and drop it when I get there?
Think this is just a dream? Well, I'm off to Boston to the place where dreams are engineered into reality. [After you.] This is the famous Media Lab at MIT. Carry on! And here are the guys who are building the world's first fold-up electric car.
This is the car.
Not full size, I gather.
No, one half size.
One half size.
So it does tricks? Let's hope this works. I'm now going to (1) make this car fold.Oh, excellent!
Yep. When it's folded, it fits in the width of a regular parking space.
You're kidding!
That's right.
That's fantastic.
(2) So you can park the car perpendicular to the sidewalk. (3) Then the door will actually come open through the front and you step out onto the sidewalk.
It's a mind-bogglingly different kind of electric car which is exactly what its conceptual creator was hoping for.
I'd been talking for years to some of my colleagues in urban design and we kept on whining about the condition of cities and sort of recognising that the automobile is a key problem. It got to the point where it's time to stop whining, we needed to fundamentally reinvent the automobile. The secret is a revolutionary new form of drive. This car, this is a model of the chassis, (4) doesn't have a motor. It has four and each of them is inside a wheel. Each of these wheels is an autonomous wheel robot. So this here, that's the steering, that's the motor and this is the suspension. Apart from this mechanical connection, the only thing that connects to the body of the car is information... and electric power. With the engine effectively in the wheels, the body of the car is freed up to do cool things, like folding which halves precious parking space. And it allows a few more tricks.
(5) So we're about to perform what we call an O turn. The vehicle can spin in very small spaces because each wheel can turn a full 120 degrees.
Oh, excellent! So you can do this in traffic?
That'd cause chaos!
You can also imagine getting in and out of parking spots much easier.
If you have this capability, you don't have to go in reverse anymore.
You don't have to reverse out of a parking spot?
No more banging your car into those damned high-rise car park pillars!
Just turn the vehicle to the direction and then head out head first.
(6) The car is also lighter, stronger and way more energy efficient than a petrol car. And with an expected price of around $12,000, the revolutionary thinking doesn't stop there. (7) You see, you don't have to own one. They could just be stacked around the city for use on demand.
You just swipe a credit card, pick up the automobile, drive it a drop-off point near where you want to go and just leave it - so it's a one-way rental kind of system.
A full scale driveable prototype will be built next year and they assure me a demo on demand system will be running within five. But if that seems like a long wait, there's an exciting spin-off that's ready now. Now, this looks like an ordinary bike.
It's not.
It's not?
Look at the back wheel. It's another one of these in-wheel robots. Apparently, you can easily replace the back wheel of any existing bike and turn it into an electric bike. What do I do?
So, you have a throttle here, which provides power. The more you push, the more throttle you get.
Here goes! Right, I press it. Ooh! This is fun!
Don't forget to pedal too.
I have to pedal as well?
Yes, at the same time.
Oh, I get pedal assistance! Wahoo, watch out!
Slow down!
We're really excited about our little Green Wheel, our little electric bike. It's a very low cost, low risk way of introducing the concept of electric vehicles into cities. So you can move up from the lightweight bikes to things like scooters and then to enclosed climate controlled automobiles. I suspect that's going to be the transition pathway.
I'd go faster but it's slippery in here. The first commercial Green Wheels will be rolling off the production line this year. I will watch out for the marble floor. Just one word of advice. Try not to test drive it on a marble floor. Just because the technology's smart, doesn't mean the driver is.