A new car-sharing vision may help ease congestion in metropolitan areas lacking mass transportation options. Cities like New York City and London have a decent public transportation system, but if you’ve ever tried to commute in a city like Los Angeles, you probably pray for a better way. California’s Ideo, a design company, offers one such alternative. Their latest concept looks past major infrastructure programs to an expanded view of the automobile sharing model as a means of reducing all of the negative affects of too many cars on the roads.


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Rather than focus on large public transit programs, IDEO’s latest project matches the current focus on making driving not only easier, but safer. And then expands on that concept by showcasing how an autonomous car can not only bring improvements to its owner’s life, but also help other community members get from point a to b and even raise a few bucks.

Related: VW unveils the all-electric autonomous Microbus of the future

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The owner of the autonomous vehicle can choose to ride solo or even make a few extra dollars by picking up other passengers along the way – which is probably something some Uber and Lyft drivers already do today. Taking communal sharing one step further, the autonomous vehicle can also be rented out like a Zipcar to other people; the renters can even reduce the cost of the rental by agreeing to run errands for the owner of the car. Imagine that you’re renting the car to go on a grocery run, but while you’re there you pick up a few groceries for the car’s owner as well, which would lower the overall cost of the rental.

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Today car’s generally only serves their owners and the owner’s contacts, but IDEO’s concept would change that by making the car a public resource, similar to a bus or train but on a much smaller scale. Riders can use an app to book a ride, like with UberPOOL. Another big difference between this and other car-sharing programs comes down to a few simple settings that make the environment a bit more discrete.

+ IDEO

All images @IDEO