Stackable Robot Cars: The Future of Green Mass Transit

MIT stackable cars 2

Traveling in an urban environment can be daunting, particularly if you’re sightseeing in a new place. If you’re lucky enough to be in Paris, where rental bikes dot the landscape (or in the future, where these awesome energy-generating rental bikes live), you’ve got it made. But for the rest of us? We can either drive, try to learn the mass transit system, or hoof it.

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Thanks to a group of tireless researchers at MIT, we might have another option in the future. These nifty stackable cars, dubbed CityCars, could one day be available to rent, just like those Parisian bikes. They’re electric, so there’s no need to worry about filling them up. You just grab the first fully-charged one on the rack and go. The racks would be located outside of tourist spots and mass transit stops, making it much easier to fill in the gaps in a city’s transit system. And since the project is getting stylistic input from legendary architect Frank Gehry, you know you’re going to look ultra cool riding around in one.

MIT stackable cars

The two-passenger cars have a unique fold-up design that lets them charge on a rack between uses. They’re small, they’re efficient, they’re handy – but the best thing about these little vehicles may be their wheels. Each one has its own independent motor, suspension and braking system, meaning that each can turn a full 360 degrees, making them able to squeeze into teeny urban parking spaces. The MIT team has been working on this concept for years, and General Motors is developing a prototype.

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See more in Cars & Trucks or under Transportation. September, 2009.
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