The CityCar electric automobile, developed and prototyped by Smart Cities, is designed to meet the demand for enclosed personal mobility – with weather protection, climate control and comfort, secure storage, and crash protection – in the cleanest and most economical way possible. It weighs less than a thousand pounds, parks in much less space than a Smart Car, and is expected to get the equivalent of 150 to 200 miles per gallon of gasoline. Since it is battery-electric, it produces no tailpipe emissions.The prototype that I saw was half-scale and couldn't hold a person, but was nevertheless impressive to see as it compacted itself and rolled around on a small platform. The interview is with one of the grad students working on the project, who explains some of the features relating to charging, storage, and seating:
The architecture of the CityCar is radical. It does not have a central engine and traditional power train, but is powered by four in-wheel electric motors. Each wheel unit contains drive motor (which also enables regenerative braking), steering, and suspension, and is independently digitally controlled. This enables maneuvers like spinning on its own axis (an O-turn instead of a U-turn), moving sideways into parallel parking spaces, and lane changes while facing straight ahead.
Other MIT encounters: