MIT Media lab shows off urban, electric vehicles

Uploaded by networkworld on 10.03.2010

At the opening of its new Media Lab, MIT showed off green urban transportation work. The different
vehicles are known as the Smart Cities project.
One such vehicle is the CityCar, a compact vehicle that can carry two passengers. Four
of the electric vehicles can fit in a parking space that would normally accommodate only
one traditional automobile. The version you see here is a half size scale model.
William Lark Jr. Research Assistant, MIT
"Imagine different stacks located at different nodes throughout the city, shopping centers,
airports, subway stations. You could easily rent one of these vehicles and then drop it
off at another convenient location."
To allow the CityCar to take even less space, MIT researchers designed the car to fold in
half, pulling itself out of a low profile and giving it a smaller overall footprint
while parked. The urban-centric design is also echoed in the technology designed around
the wheels.
"We have what we call wheel robots, where you have each wheel with a drive motor and
suspension and steering built into one unit. That allows you to not only free up the design
of the vehicle but also turn each wheel 120 degrees so the vehicle has a lot of freedom
and moves around almost like we do as people. You can move forward as a traditional vehicle,
you translate sideways, spin on a dime and just have unique movements which are very
important in a very tight, congested city."
While the CityCar might be a few years off, MIT is already set to release another product
within the next year. The GreenWheel is a completely self-contained electric motor capable
of around 30 miles per hour that snaps onto the bike you already own.
"Your traditional electric asset bicycle you put a motor on the back, you have to have
a battery somewhere on the frame and you have to wire all that to a controller on your handlebars.
Not that easy. What we have is a central motor, surrounded by lithium ion cells and a control
system all built in a disc unit that snaps onto the back with the wheel on it."
MIT researchers said the GreenWheel seen here is an earlier prototype, with the production
candidate packing twice as much power in about the same space. They expect it to go on sale
within the year for around 1000 US Dollars.
Reporting from MIT Media Lab, I'm Justin Meisinger, IDG News Service.