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MIT Media Lab Rolls Out Folding Car

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the sub-sub-compact dept.

Transportation 222

kkleiner writes "You think European cars are small now, wait till the Hiriko takes to the roads in Spain's northern Basque country. The two-seater is about the size of a SmartCar, but when parked, the car can actually fold. After folding, the car takes up about a third of a normal parking space. The Hiriko, Basque for 'urban car,' folds as the rear of the car slides underneath its chassis. Every square foot counts."

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Cool (4, Funny)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820581)

Unless it lacks a safety to prevent it from folding while you're in it! :D

not to mention getting run over by SUVs (0)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820627)

Im sorry but cars this small should not be considered safe for Highway use (or even some cities)

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38820677)

But it's okay for country roads...

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (5, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820737)

How about cars as big as SUVs shouldn't be considered for city use?

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (3, Interesting)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820763)

cause the occupants of an SUV wont be killed if they hit a brick in the road

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (3, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820855)

cause the occupants of an SUV wont be killed if they hit a brick in the road

But they are more likely to suffer injury/fatality in rollover accidents. Funny that. Guess it has something to do with all that mass.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820887)

It'll probably flip over...so yes, they might be.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

TClevenger (252206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820939)

cause the occupants of an SUV wont be killed if they hit a brick in the road

Except that they'll all die in the rollover crash from when that bricks blows a tire, upsets their balance or, god forbid, they swerve to avoid it.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821089)

Actually, rollovers are some of the most survivable of crashes...providing the occupants are wearing seat belts.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (2)

j-beda (85386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821565)

Actually, rollovers are some of the most survivable of crashes...providing the occupants are wearing seat belts.

My understanding was that the human heart (more accurately the aorta feeding into it) does not take too well to forces/accelerations in the vertical direction - the body is strapped in, but the heart can be pulled away from the aorta, which of course is not how it is designed to operate. I think that this is more common in rollover accidents, since one gets more up/down forces, but I can't find anything specifically about that in a quick search:

Traumatic Aortic Rupture : http://www.thedoctorwillseeyounow.com/content/heart/art2030.html?getPage=2 [thedoctorw...younow.com]

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820885)

"How about cars as big as SUVs shouldn't be considered for city use?"

Should be interesting to get goods into a city when trucks can't get downtown.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821121)

"How about cars as big as SUVs shouldn't be considered for city use?"

Should be interesting to get goods into a city when trucks can't get downtown.

Here's an interesting factoid, a car as big as an SUV is not the same as a delivery truck, and ordinances could be written to allow one while prohibiting the other.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821465)

Here's an interesting factoid, a car as big as an SUV is not the same as a delivery truck, and ordinances could be written to allow one while prohibiting the other.

So what size SUV are you talking about? Midsize or full size? What about a pick-up truck or van (commercial, personal, minivan)? It's a slippery slope with that type of legislation.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821125)

Trains work fine, just build some track.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821491)

That's what I'm talking about. More public transpo.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (0)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821505)

Trains work fine, just build some track.

We can't we let all the slaves go and the chinks work for themselves now...

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821109)

And who is going to enforce that exactly and why would anybody sign under that?

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821183)

Or at least make the speed limit dependent on safety risks the car poses to occupants and to others.

A slow moving SUV with a rounded hood that hits a pedestrian will result in a broken arm or leg, the same SUV with a "cow bar" will kill the pedestrian. A heavy car will have enough impulse to seriously injure people in a lighter car, even if the lighter car could have (relatively) safely hit a wall at the same speed. And yes, a light car might pose a risk at high speeds and high wind conditions.

Speed limit, insurance, tax, would all be possible options. Commercial drivers usually have fewer problems with following safety rules than people who just want bigger things but not take responsibility. Driving truck speed on some routes and a few miles slower in a residential neighborhood would not be a big deal.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (0)

eepok (545733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820793)

Vehicle size is not nor has it ever been an issue. The issue is likelihood of collision. Responsible/considerate driving and higher visibility (from within all cars) are the points on which to focus.

The automobile armor race must stop if we're going to safe money and lives (the two go hand-in-hand).

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820979)

The numbers are in and it turns out SUVs are NOT safer.

Sure, they're safer in a head-on collision but that's one of the least frequent types of accident. In most other types of accident the SUVs tend to flip over and kill everybody inside. Ref: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/teepa/pdf/TRB_Safety_1-03.pdf [lbl.gov]

Ironically, the feeling of 'safety' also causes more SUV accidents because the drivers take more risks.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (3, Insightful)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821115)

size / weight is absolutely an issue. I have spoken to many parents who want to buy their 16 year old as big of a car as possible, because they know that 16 year olds are idiots and will wreck the car. Visibility doesnt matter, and responsibility isnt programmed into the kids yet. The parents are concerned for only one thing, the safety of THEIR kid. The mass of the vehicle gives safety, and their are studies to show that reducing weight simply to improve mileage actually increases death rates.

I am not defending this, and it actually makes me sick, but it is impossible to dismiss the advantage of size in a collision.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (3, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821263)

size / weight is absolutely an issue. I have spoken to many parents who want to buy their 16 year old as big of a car as possible, because they know that 16 year olds are idiots and will wreck the car. Visibility doesnt matter, and responsibility isnt programmed into the kids yet. The parents are concerned for only one thing, the safety of THEIR kid.

They are also poorly informed. SUVs -- and larger cars in general -- are only "better" in terms of safety when you consider injuries/deaths to occupants per accident.

Once you consider the increased frequency of accidents of larger vehicles, the safety advantage for occupants of the large car disappears.

I am not defending this, and it actually makes me sick, but it is impossible to dismiss the advantage of size in a collision.

It is likewise impossible to dismiss the advantage of size if your goal is to maximize the frequency of collisions a vehicle will experience.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821407)

Agreed. This is a short sighted view, where the only concern is personal. The odds of a crash are damn near 100% it seems... new drivers wreck cars, and kids are stupid . So the mitigation is to survive this eventuality. The car contributing to the accident is just one more factor, and the parents are protecting not by parenting, but by armor. I dont think that avoiding wrecks has anything to do with the choice... having the most momentum is the deciding factor.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (5, Insightful)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820805)

1. This is a half-scale prototype.

2. If it meets FMVSS then it's the SUV driver's fault for not being able to see it and the SUV manufacturer's fault for making such a huge vehicle to begin with. The SUVs are the unsafe cars here, but they're acceptable to the population because the risk is to others, not the SUV driver.

This is a prisoner's dilemma problem -- You want a safer car for your personal safety so you buy bigger, but in doing so threaten everyone else. This makes all cars large, fat, heavy, costly and full of energy in the inevitable impact. If, however, everyone accepted that it's in the best interest of the population to optimize for average safety, cars should be much smaller since they would then have lower energy in an impact (helping in accidents where property or pedestrians are hit in addition to other cars) and be more maneuverable in order to avoid impacts.

Also, due to the relative rarity of tractor trailers and the fact that professional drivers have faaaaaaaaar better safety records than non-professionals those tractor trailers don't impose much of a risk even in a small car.

Now, will people die in accidents that they would have survived had they been in a larger car? Yes. However, will people /avoid/ potentially fatal accidents that they would have been in had there been a larger car on either side? Yes.

And I haven't even touched on the environmental and financial benefits of smaller cars.

Also, yes, I acknowledge that some families require larger vehicles to haul around hockey gear and three kids and whatnot. The vast majority do not. The vast majority could make do with better packing strategies including such things as roof racks/roof bins.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

cababunga (1195153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820989)

Also, yes, I acknowledge that some families require larger vehicles to haul around hockey gear and three kids and whatnot.

Those buy minivans, not SUVs.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

netwarerip (2221204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821283)

Also, yes, I acknowledge that some families require larger vehicles to haul around hockey gear and three kids and whatnot.

Those buy minivans, not SUVs.

Not in the Northeast, Rocky Mtn States, etc. where there are things like snow and ice and hills and shitty departments of transportation.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821339)

I grew up in northern Canada. Most people I know, including those who live down gravel roads, love minivans. They're good on ice, stable, and relatively cheap. If you need to go offroad on the farm you get a pickup. Never an SUV.

I heard the same thing from the owners of a remote lodge on the Alaska highway who used a minivan for supply runs.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (-1, Flamebait)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820993)

A big car compensates a small d***. That's why you rarely see small cars in the streets.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821519)

And many small car owners, especially hybrids owners are just plain Big Dicks.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

TClevenger (252206) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821047)

Now, will people die in accidents that they would have survived had they been in a larger car? Yes. However, will people /avoid/ potentially fatal accidents that they would have been in had there been a larger car on either side? Yes.

I think most of those probably would have been saved in a NEWER car, perhaps. Today's small cars are significantly safer than even those built in the early 90's.

This reminds me of that famous "Not so Smart now!" picture of a Smart car smashed between two big rigs. Not only was the picture NOT of a Smart, but there is probably NO car short of a bread truck that would have survived such a collision..

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821389)

I'd say my answer to this is let people drive what they want. However, it would be nice if there were a way to use what computing technology we have so on critical freeways, the ride is completely computer controlled from entry to exit. This way, the ricer and the roid-raging SUV driver are not an issue on the crowded core arteries in and out of a town.

Bigger != Better (1)

mindcandy (1252124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821401)

Here's a good (albeit dated) example : Mini Cooper vs F-150. http://paultan.org/2005/11/08/mini-cooper-vs-ford-f-150-crash-test/ [paultan.org]

While you can't argue with the laws of physics with respect to mass, engineers can (and have) done an amazing amount of work to ensure the energy is absorbed slowly and evenly.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821139)

The real one it's the size of a Smart that is more than capable of performing in cities. It's actually better than all those SUVs

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821217)

Im sorry but cars this small should not be considered safe for Highway use (or even some cities)

Since when do Basques need highways? You would reach the end of the highway before accelerating to cruise speed.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821227)

Why not? It's not like a person can fit inside. har har. Great for pets.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821291)

I think it's a scale model for display.

Re:not to mention getting run over by SUVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821513)

I think it's a scale model, I don't think a human could fit in that thing.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38820679)

It would be like a convertible, only instead of folding up the top, it would do the same to your spine.

Re:Cool (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820827)

Unless it lacks a safety to prevent it from folding while you're in it! :D

At issue is how it holds up with the moron tailgating you in an SUV, because you're not speeding fast enough for them, runs into you because you came to, of all things a STOP sign/light.

So far the old fears of small cars not being safe are proving unfounded as they're typically safer than larger vehicles, particularly in rollovers. Still, it looks like an egg.

Re:Cool (1)

schlachter (862210) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820845)

I was expecting more of a Transformer type folding :(

Re:Cool (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820865)

If you watch the video it says "easier to get in/out of when folded" so I guess it folds with you inside it.

Jetsons (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820599)

with enough evolution it could fly and fold even more into a (not heavy) briefcase.

Re:Jetsons (5, Funny)

sehlat (180760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820669)

with enough evolution it could fly and fold even more into a (not heavy) briefcase.

Not evolution. Intelligent design should work, though.

Re:Jetsons (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820721)

Woah... you just blew my mind.

Re:Jetsons (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820889)

with enough evolution it could fly and fold even more into a (not heavy) briefcase.

I'm more interested in a Kit. Something which is a basic frame (meeting the usual saftety requirements) where I can ad-on features, change the way it rides, etc, from a box of parts I keep in storage.

Probably has something to me growing up with Heath-Kits...

or a purse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821197)

a purse would be better. this one is superior :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku-j4JVpUT4

What is this? (4, Funny)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820637)

A car for ants?!? It needs to be at least.....twice as big as this!!

Re:What is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38820873)

Agreed. This half scale prototype does seem small...

Re:What is this? (4, Funny)

Tanman (90298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820891)

Is this car a part of the Volkswagen Center for Drivers Who Can't Park Good and Wanna Learn to Drive in the City Too?

Re:What is this? (1)

mamono (706685) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820915)

Some aunts are tall, some aunts are not tall. That is a matter that surely an aunt may be allowed to decide for herself.

Meh (3, Funny)

228e2 (934443) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820647)

Optimus Prime would not be pleased with this sham of a car . . . .

OPtimus Prime? Halloe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821015)

Optimus Prime would not be pleased with this sham of a car . . . .

Optimus Prime has a side to him that you don't know about. He is into little Spanish hotties - well, let's just say they'd be giving each other lube jobs all night long, honey!

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821213)

Optimus Prime is leader of the autobots. What does he care that there's some tinier than him? Or larger? He's still the most badass of all, because he's got the TOUCH!

"You think European cars are small now, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38820663)

"You think European cars are small now,

These american tanks are already starting to roll around here, what a scary waste of fuel and energy ...

Not really folding: more like vertical parking car (2)

youn (1516637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820671)

still pretty cool and smart (no pun intended)

Re:Not really folding: more like vertical parking (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820715)

still pretty cool and smart (no pun intended)

Perhaps something useful for large campuses; industrial, educational or cult.

It can fold-up when it gets rear-ended, too (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38820695)

And really, can we trust anyone talking about a car that doesn't know what toe-in and toe-out means?

Re:It can fold-up when it gets rear-ended, too (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821433)

No we can't. Good thing this guy used the terms in the correct manner.
The wheels are turning opposite to each other, hence toe-in and toe-out
Incase you need some education, here [wikipedia.org]

Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38820699)

Another use for the phrase "folding at home!"

SmartCar (1)

Lanforod (1344011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820729)

How is this anywhere near the size of a SmartCar? The smallest Fortwo I've seen is probably twice the size of this thing.

Re:SmartCar (1)

pulski (126566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820833)

If you watch the video you will hear the fact that the car is half scale.

Re:SmartCar (1)

Sechr Nibw (1278786) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820859)

They said the production model will be about the same size as a SmartCar. A little larger, actually. This is a half-size demo model.

My question is this: If it is programmed to not exceed speed limits, what about times that you need to put on a burst of speed? Before everyone jumps in saying you NEVER need to speed, here's a scenario. You're going through a green light. Someone on a cross street decides they are more important than stoplights, and runs through it. Sometimes, you could slam the brakes to avoid them, sometimes you're already in their path and need to speed up to get out of the way. Surprise! Your car won't let you do that! And you're in a tin can of a car, and are smeared across the front of that Hummer H3.

Re:SmartCar (2)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821249)

Most systems to regulate speed will allow a burst of speed, for situations just like what you described.

Re:SmartCar (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821547)

here's a scenario. You're going through a green light. Someone on a cross street decides they are more important than stoplights, and runs through it. Sometimes, you could slam the brakes to avoid them, sometimes you're already in their path and need to speed up to get out of the way. Surprise! Your car won't let you do that! And you're in a tin can of a car, and are smeared across the front of that Hummer H3.

Is this really a common scenario? More than crashes caused by excessive speed?

I've been driving (including cars, motorcycles and bicycles and 2 summers driving a truck) for over 20 years and have never needed to accelerate through an intersection to avoid a side impact. (nor have I ever been in a side impact collision). I'm not even sure that human reaction time and acceleration rates of most cars is even sufficient to recognize the impending side impact and accelerate out of the way.

Re:SmartCar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38820923)

This is the "half-size prototype".

Pretty much useless? (1)

Psylok (1526433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820777)

I mean, what's the point of making it smaller, if no one can park near it, because it need to grow back for you to enter and move it?

Re:Pretty much useless? (1)

modernzombie (1496981) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820919)

+1 That is exactly what I was thinking.

Re:Pretty much useless? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820999)

You know how I can tell you didn't watch the video...?

Re:Pretty much useless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821129)

The car can turn without moving and going by the demo be remotes controlled. "Driving" a car is alot easier in tight spaces when you have a outside view to avoid collision since many don't have the required 3d spatial awareness while being inside a car. They also mentioned some built-in collision avoidance (sensors to avoid bad input that will hit another car?).

Re:Pretty much useless? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821515)

So not road legal in the UK until we they change the law [legislation.gov.uk] that prohibits "quitting" a vehicle with the engine running and, by extension, starting a cars engine by remote.

Leaving motor vehicles unattended

107.—(1) Save as provided in paragraph (2), no person shall leave, or cause or permit to be left, on a road a motor vehicle which is not attended by a person licensed to drive it unless the engine is stopped and any parking brake with which the vehicle is required to be equipped is effectively set.

(2) The requirement specified in paragraph (1) as to the stopping of the engine shall not apply in respect of a vehicle—

(a) being used for ambulance, fire brigade or police purposes; or

(b) in such a position and condition as not to be likely to endanger any person or property and engaged in an operation which requires its engine to be used to—

(i) drive machinery forming part of, or mounted on, the vehicle and used for purposes other than driving the vehicle; or

(ii) maintain the electrical power of the batteries of the vehicle at a level required for driving that machinery or apparatus.

(3) In this regulation “parking brake” means a brake fitted to a vehicle in accordance with requirement 16 or 18 in Schedule 3.

Don't even get them started (no pun intended) on a car that drives itself even over small distances with no-one inside, much less at the wheel.

Old News? (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820781)

Not to shoot down the article, because this really is a fantastic idea for efficient travel and parking in congested downtown locations, but haven't folding cars been used in urban Japan for the better part of a decade?

For the article impaired... (5, Insightful)

undeadbill (2490070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820787)

MIT is showcasing this vehicle, because some of their forecasts are showing that larger vehicles in urban environments are going to be on the decline. This vehicle is intended for use inside urban environments as a shared vehicle (like ZipCars), as most urban vehicles are only used ~10% of the time. It also is electric powered, and will have a variety of electronic safety features. It is NOT intended for highway use amongst homicidal SUV drivers, so those people can continue to "drive" with a clear conscience, yakking on their phones and running over cyclists, etc. without having to worry about something larger leaving a serious dent in their day.

The showcase vehicle is a sized-down prototype. It is not intended to be driven by ants or other arthropods. Actually, it would be the first publicly viewed prototype, but I've seen concept photos of vehicles in Japan with designs like this. This prototype is going into production with models coming out in 2013, so obviously there are businesses and municipalities already putting in orders to fund this.

Which means that folks should be paying attention to the sub-text of the discussion going on in the video- there is an expectation that there will be more people in cities, and fewer resources to go around.

Hemmed in? (2, Interesting)

eth1 (94901) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820797)

So what happens when you park and fold the car, then someone comes and uses the extra space to park? You're stuck.

It's bad enough with cars that don't fold when idiots park so close you can't get back out.

Now maybe if it shortens the car enough that you can "parallel park" head in... Of course then you'd have to expand the car into traffic and sit there while you load up/get in.

Re:Hemmed in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38820961)

Did you watch the video? Having someone else take up that extra space wouldn't have you blocked in. The car drives folded or unfolded, and they specifically mention that egress/ingress is easier with the car in the folded position.

Re:Hemmed in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821101)

So what happens when you park and fold the car, then someone comes and uses the extra space to park? You're stuck.

It's bad enough with cars that don't fold when idiots park so close you can't get back out.

Now maybe if it shortens the car enough that you can "parallel park" head in... Of course then you'd have to expand the car into traffic and sit there while you load up/get in.

notice how all the wheels assist with steering? Someone parks right behind you in parallel, you can probably zero-turn this thing.

Intended use case (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821157)

So what happens when you park and fold the car, then someone comes and uses the extra space to park? You're stuck.

If you RTFA, you'll learn that the intended use case is for centrally-stored, per-use rental applications in urban areas where many people occasionally need cars but don't own them (similar to ZipCars) and where space is at a premium.

For this use, folding gets you a big advantage at the central storage location, since you can store them folded in a line and only need access space for an unfolded vehicle at the head and tail of the line (you could actually do arrive/depart at the same end of the line, but its probably simpler to do those at opposite ends.) This works, because when ready vehicles are stored for rental, they are interchangeable, so as long as you can get one out when you need it, it doesn't matter which one you get out.

You don't need to use the folding capability in traditional parking environments where you need random access to vehicles for the capability to have utility.

Great! (3, Funny)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820835)

So basically, the car comes pre-crumpled, so you don't even have to bother driving it into someone's blind spot and getting creamed. How convenient!

Small cars are so 60's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38820843)

Oblig xkcd (4, Funny)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820967)

I prefer folding cars the old fashioned way [xkcd.com] .

Wow, almost like a "Jetsons" car (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38820977)

All they need to do now is make it fly.

Dangerous of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38820991)

My brother in law was taking his State Trooper exam and one of the areas of the test was accident reconstruction. He told me one of the accidents he received was one where an 18 wheeler hit a SmartCar from behind at 45 mph, which pushed it forward to stationary UPS-style truck. When all was said and done, there were only 11 inches left of the SmartCar. All 3 occupants in the SmartCar died. While I am all for smaller cars and better city parking, I will never purchase one of these types of cars as long as huge SUVs, Delivery Trucks, and 18 Wheelers are still on the roads I travel on. So .. never :P

Re:Dangerous of course (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821153)

Smart car is a two-seater only. How could there be three occupants in a Smart car?

Re:Dangerous of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821305)

could ANY car or SUV survive that collision short of a full size 1 ton cargo van or cargo truck ?
if not, then why single out the smart car ?

Re:Dangerous of course (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821331)

My brother in law was taking his State Trooper exam and one of the areas of the test was accident reconstruction. He told me one of the accidents he received was one where an 18 wheeler hit a SmartCar from behind at 45 mph, which pushed it forward to stationary UPS-style truck. When all was said and done, there were only 11 inches left of the SmartCar. All 3 occupants in the SmartCar died. While I am all for smaller cars and better city parking, I will never purchase one of these types of cars as long as huge SUVs, Delivery Trucks, and 18 Wheelers are still on the roads I travel on. So .. never :P

Is there any reason to believe that any car would have let the occupants survive being smashed between a 20 ton 18 wheeler and a 5 ton stationary UPS truck (both of which have hard frames that don't crumple upon impact)? That's a lot of force for a car to absorb. Maybe we should all be driving military tanks to protect us from the rare small-car smooshed-between-two-trucks accidents.

1/3 of a parking space (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821009)

Great! That leaves a 1 and 2/3 space next to it so I can park my HUMMER.


Seriously, though, it sucks that all spaces cost the same where I work, whether it's for a motorcycle or a SUV.

Re:1/3 of a parking space (1)

Spectre (1685) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821235)

True, that would suck.

At my work, motorcycles get "rock-star" parking in a special section by the guards' booth (making it rather unlikely anybody will mess with or steal a motorcycle). Likewise, at some of the concert venues in our area, while parking for motorcycles is priced the same as for cars, the motorcycles get to park right up front along with the people who have handicapped parking permits.

Makes the "same price" not sting so much.

As for the article/video ... well, they managed to prototype a all-electric vehicle that parks into the same space as a motorcycle ... that is pretty impressive, but less so when I consider that it is such a small car to begin with. I'd think a typical smart forTwo takes at most a 2/3rds parking space, probably less.

I have to ask... (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821025)

what's going to happen if there's a beverage in one of the cup holders when it folds up?

Re:I have to ask... (1)

liamevo (1358257) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821405)

Simples, the cup holder moves as well. Or could you not imagine such a thing?

Reminds me of the Scarab concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821031)

http://www.ecofriend.com/entry/eco-cars-scarab-electric-concept-could-impress-james-bond/

nothing new.. (1)

SuperDre (982372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821093)

I remember seeing such a thing a couple of years ago from japan, so it's nothing new..

certainly won't trade in my Jeep Cherokee for a dingy like that..

Re:nothing new.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821437)

how about a folding jeep ?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku-j4JVpUT4

That being said here's a cherokee :
http://i46.photobucket.com/albums/f103/KQ6WQ/Motivational/SUVs_Kill.jpg

Looking at that... thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821209)

...makes my eyes bleed.

so... (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821313)

So how long until I see some yutz driving one of these down the street still in the folded position?

So what? (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821369)

That concept has been around for quite some time. They simply built a model of their own version.

Chevy should answer (1)

photonyx (2507666) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821419)

with an inflatable Suburban. When parked, takes three times as much space! Take that, MIT.

Trunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821483)

So you can't keep anything in the trunk?

Better solution, motorcycle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821531)

...

On the gripping hand (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 2 years ago | (#38821535)

I wonder if MIT is harboring motie engineers.

Not New! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38821579)

I saw this exact concept 15-20 YEARS ago in Popular Science or Popular Mechanics. I've even seen animation that shows similar cars being nested together in a parking lane like shopping carts.

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