A fully autonomous pod similar to the general motors “PUMA” concept, this urban commuter does all the work for the driver. The ability to get more power out of smaller batteries and engines will let even the smallest micro-vehicles contain generous cabin space, making for a more comfortable and productive ride to work.
The seat sits higher than in a standard car, providing high visibility all around. The front windscreen serves as the door and opens vertically, blocking rain or snow as the driver enters the vehicle.
The tall cabin gives the driver plenty of legroom, while keeping the overall profile of the car compact. Multiple vehicles could be stacked in a single parking space, and a line of moving vehicles could form an autonomous caravan, increasing efficiency by allowing vehicles in the back to draft off those ahead.
For low weight and high strength, the chassis and body are made of carbon-fiber composites.
Guided by radar, GPS, and car-to-car and car-to-road signals, the vehicle pilots itself, leaving the commuter free to talk on the phone, access the Internet, or watch videos on a large transparent OLED screen.
For increased efficiency, six small wheels in the front provide more contact with the road with less mass than would two large tires. In the back, lightweight, concealed electric hub motors, powered by a compact battery pack, move the vehicle through traffic.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.