I stumbled upon images of MIT’s City Car while reading up on various transportation issues today. Unfortunately, I cannot find anything more on the project more recent than 2007, which is a shame because the idea is so cool. The City Car is a stackable car, sort of where ZipCar, Smart Cars, folding chairs and bicycle racks all intersect.
The CityCar is a stackable electric two-passenger city vehicle. The one-way sharable user model is designed to be used in dense urban areas. Vehicle Stacks will be placed throughout the city to create an urban transportation network that takes advantage of existing infrastructure such as subway and bus lines. By placing stacks in urban spaces and key points of convergence, the vehicle allows the citizens the flexibility to combine mass transit effectively with individualized mobility. The stack receives incoming vehicles and electrically charges them. Similar to luggage carts at the airport, users simply take the first fully charged vehicle at the front of the stack. The City car is NOT a replacement for personal vehicles, taxis, buses, or trucks; it is a NEW vehicle type that promotes a socially responsible and more effective means of urban mobility.
The CityCar utilizes fully integrated in-wheel electric motors and suspension systems called, “Wheel Robots.” The wheel robots eliminate the need traditional drive train configurations like engine blocks, gear boxes, and differentials because they are self-contained, digitally controlled, and reconfigurable. Additionally, the wheel robot provides all wheel power and steering capable of 360 degrees of movement, thus allowing for Omni-directional movement. The vehicle can maneuver in tight urban spaces and park by sideways translation.
General Motors was collaborating on the project, but perhaps the project has not gone any further. I think it’s a really cool idea, the whole notion of a stackable car. The notion of a two-passenger car taking up the room of a motorcycle is just fun to think about. It would be the kind of thing that would be great for a company like ZipCar or Philly Car Share to invest in, since it would cut down on the space necessary to house the cars, as long as those cars were for intra-city driving only. Either way, I hope this project is still alive just because I want to see one in person.