It’s small, cute, and sleek. Just another smart car, though? Hardly. The EO Smart Connecting Car 2, or “EOscc2” for short, does things like no other smart car we’ve seen, except maybe in sci-fi movies. The product of a research project conducted by the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, the EOscc2 is a wee electric car that can drive sideways, change its shape, and even shrink itself to fit in smaller spaces. It’s pretty special.
The EOscc2 is a tiny and very smart car that the designers call a “highly flexible and modular robotic car.” What makes it so smart? Let’s see. It’s small. And, for the times when it’s not quite small enough, it can actually change its shape by compressing itself and allowing the panels to overlap each other a bit. Each of its four independently-powered wheels can turn 90 degrees, becoming perpendicular to the car’s tiny body, which enables the vehicle to drive sideways.
This model is actually the second of its kind, a follow-up to the original EO Smart Car prototype in 2012, which was a rougher interpretation of the concept. Check that one out in this video.
So, what’s the “connecting” part of the name about? That’s the part that really blew us away. These cars are designed to be linked with one another, in a long string like a train. This commercial-like video shows what that might look like: an app allows “drivers” to join a “platoon” of individual vehicles headed in the same direction. From what we can gather, the vehicles are designed in such a way that one person can be the “master” driver in control of the train, while other people become simply passengers who are free to read a newspaper, chat on the phone, or send IM-like messages to others in the train via the app.
It’s pretty science-fictiony at this point to envision a city full of sole-occupant sideways-driving shape-shifting vehicles. But, oh man, the possibilities are endless. No more parallel parking? Where do we sign up?
Images via Timo Birnschein, DFKI GmbH