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Transportation Tuesday: MIT's Stackable City Car
While public transportation is a great green urban option, the “last mile” problem is a real shortcoming- referring to the conundrum of the extra distance from your bus or train stop to your doorstep (while this may seem trivial to some, Midwestern commuters can attest to the annoyance of this problem). The folks at MIT think that they may have a solution to that problem: The City Car, a stackable electric two-passenger city vehicle, would combine the best features of mass transit, car-sharing, and personal vehicles in a high-density, high-convenience system.
Meant to work more like a car sharing service than that of a personal vehicle, MIT hopes to change the way that we think about personal transportation. Stacks of vehicles could be placed throughout the city to create a small network that is linked to the existing mass transportation systems within the city. When a person comes gets off a bus or train, they can just hop into one of these vehicles and go about their business. They can either drop it off at the vehicle stack at their destination, if there happens to be one, or returned to their original stack, where the vehicle will be recharged and wait for the next person to take it.
The cars are electric two-passenger vehicles. Rather than using a single engine motor, the car comes equipped with four in-wheel electric motors, powered by lithium-ion batteries. The electric motor and suspension system of the vehicle eliminate the need for traditional drive train configurations, like gear boxes, thus removing the need for a large engine block, thus making the cars smaller and more maneuverable. Furthermore, the vehicle is designed with 360 degrees of steering capability, allowing it to maneuver in small spaces and even park sideways.
This is an idea that makes sense. Think of how much time you spend not using your vehicle. Most of the time, for most people obviously, public transport should be more than enough to meet their transportation requirements, but by solving the last mile problem, MIT could change the way that we do our traveling. A prototype is expected next year.
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