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Thread: Alternative Cars/Vehicles

  1. #16

    Default Electric / Electronic Concept Cars - MIT/GM City Car

    Electric/Electronic Concept Cars
    Concept Cars that due to their electronic starting point have explored other areas of design previously undeveloped:
    such as foldable/stackable cars, pivoting cabins, autonomous and interchangeable motorised components

    MIT Media Lab / GM City Car Concept:
    Foldable, Stackable, Shareable and Non-Polluting

    Left - Courtesy Business Week / Photo - Franco Vairani; Right - Courtesy TopBlog


    The Car, 2.0

    Researchers at the MIT Media Lab envision a fleet of lightweight stackable electric cars that can help reduce congestion and urban energy waste.

    By Robert Weisman,
    [Boston] Globe …
    February 18, 2007

    CAMBRIDGE -- Will the car of the future be foldable?

    That's the vision of a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab. With backing from General Motors Corp., they are building a prototype of a lightweight electric vehicle that can be cheaply mass-produced, rented by commuters under a shared-use business model, and folded and stacked like grocery carts at subway stations or other central sites.

    It's called the City Car, and the key to the concept lies in the design of its wheels. Dreamers have been reinventing the wheel since the days of cave dwellers. But the work underway in "the Cube," the Media Lab's basement studio, may be the most ambitious remake yet.

    The MIT team has transformed the lowly wheel into a sophisticated robotic drive system that will power the City Car. Embedded in each of its four wheels will be an electric motor, steering and braking mechanisms, suspension, and digital controls, all integrated into sealed units that can be snapped on and off.

    And under the hood . . . well, there won't be a hood on the City Car. Just an eggshell-shaped glass plate -- part roof, part windshield -- framing the modular cabin and stretching almost to the chassis.

    "We're eliminating the internal combustion engine," said Media Lab research assistant Ryan Chin , studio coordinator for City Cars. He said the four electric motors will enable a more efficient use of power by also dispensing with the transmission and driveline. "We're removing as much hardware from the car as possible."

    In its place will be software that sets passenger preferences, changes the color of the cabin, controls the dashboard look and feel, and even directs drivers to parking spaces. "We think of the car as a big mobile computer with wheels on it," Chin said. "This car should have a lot of computational power. It should know where the potholes are."

    And like a computer, the car will start with the push of a button. Instead of a steering wheel, it has handlebars, akin to a scooter or motorbike. But the ride will be more like a traditional car, though smoother and quieter, Chin said. The body of the car will be made of lightweight composite material such as Kevlar or carbon fiber.

    Among the car's other design departures are its folding chassis, enabling it to be stacked at designated parking areas across an urban area, where it could also be recharged. It also has a zero-turn radius, courtesy of a wheel configuration that provides omnidirectional motion. For the City Car, the traditional U-turn will be replaced by an O-turn, ideal for fitting into tight spaces.

    The concept of the City Car was hatched by the Media Lab's Smart Cities group, as part of a strategy for reducing carbon emissions. The team is being led by William J. Mitchell , professor of architecture and media arts and sciences.

    Some of the Jetsonesque design of the City Car was inspired by the researchers' work with pioneering architect Frank Gehry , a friend of Mitchell, and associates at Gehry's architectural firm in Los Angeles. Gehry's firm was initially a partner, but has since scaled back its involvement to an advisory role.

    Media Lab researchers are planning to have their prototype completed by the end of the year.

    "I think we'll be driving it around the interior of this building," Chin said, "and hopefully ask the MIT police to let us drive it around a parking lot."

    The three-year-old project is moving forward under the watchful eyes of liaisons from General Motors, a Media Lab sponsor, and MIT researchers hope the automaker will build a City Car concept vehicle in 2008 to demonstrate at auto shows.

    GM devotes a portion of its $6 billion-plus annual research-and-development budget on university projects such as City Car to help its own researchers think out of the box, said Roy J. Mathieu , a GM staff researcher in Warren, Mich., who visits the Media Lab twice a semester and keeps in close contact with Chin's team.

    "They're a rich cauldron of ideas we can use to develop concepts for our future cars," Mathieu said. "They're trying to imagine how the car will fit into the city in the future. Their ideas are interesting and intriguing, and we want to see if any of them fit into our technology road map."

    Rebecca Lindland , director of automotive research at Global Insight in Lexington, said City Car is one of a number of futuristic designs being developed by automakers and independent labs to demonstrate new technologies and concepts at a time of growing concern about global warming, traffic, and energy efficiency.

    "The existing infrastructures can't support the population growth that we're seeing, so we're going to have to find viable alternative vehicles like the one MIT is designing," Lindland said.

    Unless the cars can prove crashworthy and meet government speed and emissions standards, however, their applications may be limited to gated communities and entertainment parks, she said.

    Chin said the design remains a work in progress, and if necessary the team will reinforce the car to make it crashworthy.

    As the MIT researchers envision it, the City Car won't replace private cars or mass transit systems but ease congestion by enabling shared transportation in cities. Commuters could use them for one-way rentals, swiping their credit cards to grab a City Car from the front of a stack at a central point such as a school, day-care center, or office building.

    "What you'll be buying is mobility," Chin said.

    © Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

    Courtesy top blog

  2. #17

    Default Electric / Electronic Concept Cars - Nissan Pivo

    Electric/Electronic Concept Cars

    Nissan Pivo Concept:
    Car Cabin rather than Wheels can be turned 360 degrees

    Nissan's Pivo concept car

    Ö Powered by a single lithium-ion battery, Nissan's Pivo is one of the first cars to have a spinning cockpit. This tiny car features electric sliding doors and several cameras mounted outside the cabin. Cameras located at either end of the car send a live feed to an 'Around View' dashboard screen that uses the data to generate a 360į image.

    Copyright © Virgin Media

    Illustration of the 90 degree pivot

    Courtesy Virgin Media

    Other Views of this Version

    Courtesy Uber Gizmo (left) and Automobile Magazine (right)

    With the Pivo Concept Nissan presents its vision for a futuristic city car: an electric vehicle compact in dimensions, easy to drive and with an innovative revolving cabin.

    Exterior: a pivoting cabin

    Pivo Concept headlight detail

    Thanks to the multiple drive-by-wire technology, Nisan eliminated the need for mechanical links between cabin and chassis and enabled designers to create the unique pivoting passenger compartment (hence the name "Pivo"), that gives the driver the ability to park while always looking forward.

    Because the platform has a longitudinally symmetrical design, the driverís perception of the carís corners does not change even when the cabin is rotated through 180 degrees. In addition to this, the drive-by-wire systems can help reduce the vehicle weight and the number of mechanical parts, by replacing mechanical linkages with electronic signals.


    Despite an overall length of just 2,700 mm (slighlty larger than a Smart Fortwo), the PIVO seats three passengers comfortably. The driver sits front and centre while two passengers sit side-by-side in the rear. Tall, electrically-powered sliding doors make it easy to get in and out.

    The visibility is enhanced by see-through pillars and Nissanís Around View technology, an integrated system made of different cameras which generates a 360-degree view of the carís surroundings on a dashboard monitor. An innovative image processing technique synthesises these images into a single birdís-eye view.

    A dash-mounted infrared (IR) commander allows drivers to operate the navigation system and audio system without taking an eye off the road or fumbling around for controls. Itís a new type of human-machine interface (HMI) that uses an infrared camera and Nissanís ĎMagic 4í concept.
    You simply point fingers at the infrared commander to choose from any of four items on a menu. If you want item number three, hold up three fingers. Or, for example, if you want the music louder, just motion upwards with your hand.

    The Nissan's Horizontal Display system provides information along the bottom of the windscreen, displayed in the manner of movie subtitles. This innovative display system supports Nissan's future telematics interface concept. For example, in ĎCity Browsing mode,í the system can display information transmitted live from nearby locations in a label-like form.


    PIVO is powered by a zero emission system made by a high-performance Compact Lithium-ion Battery and Nissanís unique Super Motor. The electric powertrain enables a highly compact body.

    The Compact Lithium-ion Battery is flat and requires much less space than conventional cylindrical cells. Additional space and weight savings are achieved by adopting two motors (one for each axle) instead of four, thanks to Nissan's Super Motor technology, that enables to deliver different powers to two shafts.

    Copyright 2003-2008 FTM Studio S.r.L. - All Rights Reserved

  3. #18


    Wonderful job you have done here. Thanks for these posts. Very informative.

  4. #19


    Much appreciated Fabrizio ... at least there is one person viewing this.

    Obviously, of the car threads - i.e. "Dream Cars" and "Ugly Cars" - this will still be the one that will be threadbare of contributions, save for my own posts. I suspect that my childhood, filled with servo-driven "space cars" and interest in "improving" mechanical objects, has led to this lifelong interest in alternative cars and/or vehicles. This in turn has probably placed me out of touch with what interest people most about cars: namely, how they look.

    I also have found that some of what interest me is not on the Internet, or now have dead links, so maybe I should move on, after a few more posts currently in my pipeline.

  5. #20


    I appreciate this thread also, you have covered it so comprehensively I couldnt possibly have anything to add.

  6. #21


    Now there are two! Again very grateful for your post alonzo.

  7. #22


    Whoa. How did I miss this one?

    Good stuff here, but I have to confess...

    While the socially responsible citizen in me welcomes these concepts, the other side of my brain laments the loss of heel-and-toe rev matching, unaided suspension control, throttle steering - the satisfaction of nailing a series of corners without help from a computer.

  8. #23


    ^ It's like being an analog audiophile. Does anyone do that anymore?

  9. #24
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    Well, only if the analog is sweet and the digital is 128 from a n00b.....

  10. #25


    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    ^ It's like being an analog audiophile. Does anyone do that anymore?
    I know a couple, but it's become rare since sampling rates and error correction improvements.

    I think it's more about owning classic recording equipment and vinyl - like an old classic car that feels good to be in.

  11. #26


    Favoring mechanical and analog technology has certain benefits in a world with Electromagnetic Bombs.

    In a post EMP world of Gypsy Dianas where the last of the V8 is king, how would you play a CD, much less cob together a workaround for your toasted ECU?

    BTW, Praise the Lord for vinyl records!

  12. #27
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    Yeah, a power outage with global warming and you can kiss some of those records good by.

    Well, at least their fidelity!

    BTW, I would have to check on this, but storage media would not be effected. CD's, DVD's. SO if you are worried about your music after someone attacks the US with an EMP bomb/attack, you can just keep a player and amp in a thick metal box in the cellar JIC.

    Oh, don't forget the bicycle powered generator!!!! (Don't want to waste Gas powering an I=pod, I mean, REALLY!)

    PS - OT!!!!!!!

  13. #28


    I'm still waiting for my flying car. But I may have to settle for a car that rotates:

    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyr View Post
    Nissan's Pivo is one of the first cars to have a spinning cockpit.

    But I am glad to see it has circular doors:

    Those have been a fixture of futuristic cars since at least 1925:

    1925 Rolls Royce Phantom I Aerodynamic Coupe, coachwork by Jonckheere.


    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyr View Post
    ...what interests people most about cars: namely, how they look...

    Nothing aerodynamic about its interior:

    Actually, it's kind of a pimpmobile.

  14. #29



    But it is the mechanicals that are 1925... the body was done in the 1930's... styling is in the school of the Delahaye and other aerodynamic cars from the era.

  15. #30


    ^ 1934.

    Here's a Voisin Aerosport from that year:

    Corbusier was a great admirer of the Voisin.

    To him, it represented l'esprit nouveau: all things modern.

    Therefore, when he proposed the demolition of Paris and its replacement by towers in a park ...

    ... he named it the "Plan Voisin."

    Last edited by ablarc; May 3rd, 2008 at 07:59 PM. Reason: added pics.

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