Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

MIT Offers City Car for the Masses

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the popeil-pocket-car dept.

Technology 290

MIT's stackable electric car, a project to improve urban transportation will make its debut this week in Milan. "The City Car, a design project under way at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is envisioned as a two-seater electric vehicle powered by lithium-ion batteries. It would weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds and could collapse, then stack like a shopping cart with six to eight fitting into a typical parking space. It isn't just a car, but is designed as a system of shared cars with kiosks at locations around a city or small community."

cancel ×

290 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Moore's Law, anyone? (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247493)

"The City Car, a design project under way at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is envisioned as a two-seater electric vehicle powered by lithium-ion batteries. It would weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds and could collapse, then stack like a shopping cart with six to eight fitting into a typical parking space. It isn't just a car, but is designed as a system of shared cars with kiosks at locations around a city or small community."

So every 18 months they'll come out with a newer model, which folds into half the space and cost less. At the end of 12 years it will be a skateboard. Got news for them, Santa Cruz is already there.

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247579)

How was this comment posted and modded "insightful" (which it isn't) within seconds of this article going live?

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247607)

it's called TOO SLOW, first relevant post gets modded up.

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247833)

How was this comment posted and modded "insightful" (which it isn't) within seconds of this article going live?
Look closer at the timestamps, article shows as posted 1hr 1m before first post, post times seem a bit off, the story was "live" on apparent EST time but posts are 1 hour later.

Python.. (3, Funny)

eniac42 (1144799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247695)

Look, I came here for an argument! Oh, sorry, wrong story..

Re:Python.. (3, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247961)

Look, I came here for an argument! Oh, sorry, wrong story..
No, it isn't!

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (2, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247765)

So every 18 months they'll come out with a newer model, which folds into half the space and cost less. At the end of 12 years it will be a skateboard. Got news for them, Santa Cruz is already there.

Okay... think "Minneapolis", "January", "6:00 am", and "10 mile commute". Now do that on a skateboard.

Also, Moore's Law isn't exactly translatable to something that most people shop for based on cupholder numbers, y'know? ;)

('course, if this was all written in jest, then, err, my bad...)

/P

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247895)

Okay... think "Minneapolis", "January", "6:00 am", and "10 mile commute". Now do that on a skateboard.

I doubt these little cars will work in that scenario, either. While the roads are clear, there are still a number of skateboarders who will go easily 5 miles across town. You know they do, when you get stuck in commute traffic and twenty minutes later arrive to see the same skateboarder you saw a long ways back. There was a fellow who worked down on the end of the wharf, rode his board all the way in from Scotts Valley.

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248017)

Glenn Canyon, 17, or Graham Hill? Either choice is a deathwish...

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248073)

Glenn Canyon, 17, or Graham Hill? Either choice is a deathwish...

Graham Hill. I wish I'd thought of asking how he managed it. I took a bicycle down that road once and of its own accord it would go about 30 mph. He did mention he took the bus back home after work.

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248067)

My personal testimony on this: Biking works.
I ride my bike in a city that doesn't have overwhelming traffic problems (so cars can go much faster than in the big city), and I can catch up with cars that passed me up to 1/4 of a mile back if the cars get caught at the right intersections. Definitely would do better in a metropolitan area. That said, it takes me ~35 minutes to get to a destination that takes 5-10 minutes in a car (4.7 miles one-way).

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (2, Insightful)

MrNonchalant (767683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248305)

One idea might be that in fact this isn't a replacement for biking, skateboarding, taking public transit, or whatever else have you. But instead that it could supplement someone whose primary means of transport is one of those. I'd sort of feel like I'd have to have a car for select situations, and once I'd have a car I'd feel like I'd need to justify the expense by using it. This and current car sharing schemes neatly sidestep that. You have a car when you need one, not when you don't. This is more efficient all around. It can save you money, it can reduce environmental impact, and it can reduce congestion.

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (1)

zenhkim (962487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248107)

> While the roads are clear, there are still a number of skateboarders who will go easily 5 miles across town. You know they do, when you get stuck in commute traffic and twenty minutes later arrive to see the same skateboarder you saw a long ways back.

I can attest to the validity of that scenario, only I've been in the opposite position: I commuted everywhere (school, work, shopping, home) on bicycle, and the rush hour traffic got so bad that all the cars were either crawling down the road or standing still ....while I whizzed by everyone in the bike lane.

The really excruciating irony is that I've done the same thing while cranking away on an uphill stretch of road.

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248163)

I can attest to the validity of that scenario, only I've been in the opposite position: I commuted everywhere (school, work, shopping, home) on bicycle, and the rush hour traffic got so bad that all the cars were either crawling down the road or standing still ....while I whizzed by everyone in the bike lane.
The really excruciating irony is that I've done the same thing while cranking away on an uphill stretch of road.

The irksome thing is you passing them while they're stuck, just pisses them off completely and they'll do dumbass things to try to cut you off if you're in the road, even in the bike lane. Funny how some people will do stuff while in a vehicle they wouldn't dare try outside of it.

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21248011)

Okay... think "Minneapolis", "January", "6:00 am", and "10 mile commute". Now do that on a skateboard.
No problemo! Just strip the wheels off and go snowboarding dude! (My old body aches just thinking about it.)

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247925)

f'santa cruz. Just because hippy's can ride the boards down to check the surf, its by no means any base for a comparison.

grow up, gtfo.

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248129)

f'santa cruz. Just because hippy's can ride the boards down to check the surf, its by no means any base for a comparison.

I think the surfers prefer those big cruiser bikes with the board racks on the side. The daughter of a woman I worked with used to carry board and everything on a scooter. Those who cross town are often commuting, I personally know several people who do it.

Re:Moore's Law, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247989)

Yes, every 18 months you also double the battery capacity. Just pray it aint Sony making those batteries...

They should call it the Rockies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247531)

talk about collapse

It wount be accepted. (-1, Offtopic)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247543)

1) How do you get your car out when its part of the middle of a stack?

2) Would you want everyone else's tire tracks on your car's body?

People don't care when its something like shopping carts were it's the store's property and it doesn't matter when it gets dinged or bent slightly when stored as part of a group. But do you really think people are going to be all okay with their own car being stacked/folded into a set with a bunch of strangers' cars?

Re:It wount be accepted. (1)

mdozturk (973065) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247567)

Its a shared car. Read the article.

Re:It wount be accepted. (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247705)

Like the "village bicycle"?
So these are really more expensive and fancy ^stackable public golf carts?
Wonder how they plan for Lo-Jacking / Securing them... cheaper golf carts already have significant theft rates.

Re:It wount be accepted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21248149)

Like the "village bicycle"?
The problem is that the village bicycle accepts anyone...

RTFAS (1)

DreadSpoon (653424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247577)

RTFAS - Read the Fucking Article Summary

It wouldn't be YOUR car. It'd be a city-owned car rented at kiosks.

Personally, my fear would be more on the safety implications of a car designed to fold in on itself in the event of a collision.

Re:RTFAS (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247835)

Personally, my fear would be more on the safety implications of a car designed to fold in on itself in the event of a collision.


I'm more interested in how it protects in a head-on collision. I guess it's supposed to deflect the car over the arched windshield and rounded fenders, because there is no front bumper, let alone any sort of crumple zone. A car sitting as low as those would (looking at the wheel size) would have the driver kissing the front grill of any medium size SUV.

Re:RTFAS (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248097)

You're right, we really need to get those SUVs off the road, for many reasons.

Re:RTFAS (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247851)

Older generations had car gas tanks that explode on fender benders.

Future generations will have cars that fold in on themselves on fender benders.

I don't really see the problem here.

Re:It wount be accepted. (0, Offtopic)

MerlynEmrys67 (583469) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247581)

Got to love people that don't RTFA and make inappropriate comments

Re:It wount be accepted. (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247721)

You have a lower UID than me, let you still seem to be new here.

Re:It wount be accepted. (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247583)

I was thinking that until I read the article. These are being pitched as a service. You rent the car for a day or so, it's not something you purchase.

Re:It wount be accepted. (2, Informative)

Traxxas (20074) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247595)

You don't own the cars, they are community cars owned by the municipality.

That's easy! (2, Funny)

jpfed (1095443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247643)

Initialize a new stack. Pop cars from the first stack and push them onto the second stack until you find the car you want. Then, pop cars from the second stack and push them onto the first stack. This has the advantage of maintaining the original order of the stack.

Re:That's easy! (1)

SkyFalling (1115231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247741)

But don't forget, the cars are shared. You've got to worry about contention and locking, and don't forget about the GC overhead for all these extra stacks you're leaving around.

Re:It wount be accepted. (1)

SkyFalling (1115231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247655)

RTFA. Neither of your objections is particularly applicable. They're putting this forth as a service model (swipe your card and take one of the interchangeable cars when and where you need it), not for individual ownership. And when they talk about "stacking," I believe they mean horizontal nesting. Nobody stacks shopping carts vertically either.

Re:It wount be accepted. (3, Interesting)

DFDumont (19326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247701)

You clearly missed the point. This is not about YOUR car; its about a public transit system where you use a community car to get where your going, then plug it into a recharge/rental kiosk at your destination. They're trying to solve the issue of bus and train lines getting close to your destination, but not that close.

The issue I see is how has this solved the problem they're trying to address? If you have to deposit the vehicle at a kiosk to get your deposit back, then unless there's a kiosk on every corner you'll have the same issue of walking every time you take a one-way trip. If you used it like a commuter service, then you'd have to set up large parking lots tied to stations of the vehicles. They didn't mention this in the article so I don't tink they were trying to fix commuting.

I suppose if you HAD a kiosk on EVERY corner in say New York, NY, then it would be okay. But isn't that an awfully large adoption ratio to assume? I suppose you could augment existing train service with kiosks at every stop, but again they didn't mention that in the article.

I think its interesting, and certainly worth pursuing as a technology, but I think someone with a little marketing savvy needs to take a look at how this fundamental change in how we think about vehicles can be adapted into our various psyches.

Re:It wount be accepted. (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247797)

And this already exists, without the electric cars- lookup flexcar in Seattle. You basicly get a by the hour rental.

Re:It wount be accepted. (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247873)

One thing I was thinking, perhaps it's rented out for the day and you return it to the spot you picked it up from? It doesn't really help with the parking situation though, at the destination that is, other than maybe they could make some smaller parking spots (and closer to the front to encourage using these.)

Repainting parking lots, while not a trivial endeavour, is relatively simple.

What I hated about the bus and train system here, in So. Cal., is not so much the stops, but the frequency. Where I'm at, the busses average a 30-40 minute stop cycle and some are an hour or more. (Miss the 6:15? Tough, wait til 7:30...). I could see this solving that problem.

Re:It wount be accepted. (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247927)

But do you really think people are going to be all okay with their own car being stacked/folded into a set with a bunch of strangers' cars?
From TFA: "... is designed as a system of shared cars"

Do you understand the meaning of 'shared?'

painless transition (4, Funny)

xPsi (851544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247553)

then stack like a shopping cart with six to eight fitting into a typical parking space
Since that's how they park in Milan anyway, the transition should be pretty painless.

Re:painless transition (1)

baxissimo (135512) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248177)

The summary says 6-8 in a typical parking space but concept images in the article make it look more like 2-3 would fit in the typical spot. Unless Milan has some very atypical "typical parking spaces".

Because what I want is... (4, Funny)

rlwhite (219604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247589)

...a car that collapses like a shopping cart when I'm rear-ended.

Re:Because what I want is... (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247657)

Nah ... it will just explode when the battery cell is punctured.

Re:Because what I want is... (5, Interesting)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247825)

If you look at the pictures that accompany TFA, it would see "collapse" like a shopping car isn't quite what they mean but rather configure to take up a smaller footprint. From the looks of it it appears the rear wheel assembly ride along tracks along the bottom of the passenger compartment. When you park the vehicle and put it into compact mode, the rear wheels probably lock, and the front wheels push back towards the rear wheels causing the passenger compartment to rotate and slide along the track until the front wheels are near touching the rear wheels. I would bet in operational mode, that even if hit from behind with enough force to release whatever locking mechanism they have for the rear bumper assembly that the rear of the vehicle would slide harmlessly under the passenger compartment absorbing most of the energy.

Anyway this is how it appears to me from the pictures. I am not an engineer nor physicist, but it seems to me that this might actually have potential for conventional vehicles as well. If the rear bumper and wheels were able to slide harmlessly under the passenger area it could actually save lives.

Re:Because what I want is... (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247973)

...a car that collapses like a shopping cart when I'm rear-ended.

... or a car with one wheel that skitters and wobbles on its own accord.

RTFH? read the post! (4, Insightful)

spatley (191233) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247591)

from the top of this page:
"but is designed as a system of shared cars with kiosks..."
nobody owns individual cars, you subscribe to the service and grab a car from a kiosk wherever you need one.

And then Boston tipped over and slid into the sea (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247659)

from the top of this page: "but is designed as a system of shared cars with kiosks..." nobody owns individual cars, you subscribe to the service and grab a car from a kiosk wherever you need one.

What happens when the all end up at the same place in town on a Friday night

Re:And then Boston tipped over and slid into the s (2, Funny)

jombeewoof (1107009) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247813)

Don't worry, you'll still have yours parked in front of your mom's basement.

Wheels? Where's my air car? (1)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247593)

When I was a kid I envisioned something similar except the cars would fly. I wasn't alone. What happened? Well, I also envisioned hooking up with a babe like Annette Funacello, and that didn't happen either ...

Re:Wheels? Where's my air car? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247757)

Well, I also envisioned hooking up with a babe like Annette Funacello, and that didn't happen either ...

How old are you? I feel old just for knowing who Annette Funacello is.

Re:Wheels? Where's my air car? (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247899)

It's Funicello.

Now get off my damn lawn!

Re:Wheels? Where's my air car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21248007)

M-I-C...K-E-Y...M-O-U-S-E...

City car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247603)

There are already C'ity cars out there

Up Close (2, Interesting)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247611)

I got to see alot of the models and sketches for this at the Media Lab last January. I look forward to the final product. It could do alot to change urban traffic patterns and pollution in city centers.

Also they have more Lego's than God at the Media Lab...that is orgasmic.

Read the posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247685)

Before telling users to read the article.

here in america (5, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247687)

we require 10' foot high SUVs modeled on military vehicles that can run over a compact car and not even feel it. the inside must be 500 square feet, of which there will be only one occupant. oh, and the vehicle must get 2 miles to the gallon

i don't understand what the point of this green environmental stuff is, just send more soldiers to iraq. problem solved

Re:here in america (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247791)

Basically I agree with you except on the required fuel efficiency: ideally such vehicles should get at least 40 gallons per mile.

Re:here in america (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247967)

If you haven't yet, I definitely recomment that you watch this movie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triplets_of_belleville [wikipedia.org] There is only one spoken line in the movie (in French), and it just comes from the radio (so no language barrier to this film). I have a feeling you'll get a kick out of the way "Belleville" (a parody of New York) is portrayed in the film. Everyone is really fat, wearing shirts that say I 3 BIG, everyone drives monstrous SUV's, the status of liberty is depicted as obese and holding a cheeseburger and ice cream cone, etc. This is basically how the "rest of the world" views Americans, though the film depiction is intentionally a little bit over the top.

No Thanks.... (3, Interesting)

robkill (259732) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247703)

From the article:

City Car users would be required to swipe their credit card as a form of deposit. The cars could also be tracked using GPS. To protect privacy, the GPS info could then be deleted once the car is safely returned to a kiosk.
Law enforcement would fight tooth and nail to keep the GPS data from being deleted. The legitimate use would be to track someone who stole a vehicle (using a stolen credit card, probably), or used it as a getaway car for some other crime. Once stored, it's too tempting to use for other purposes. Of course this is essentially already the case with rental cars.

Re:No Thanks.... (0, Troll)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247959)

Believe me, they really aren't interested in how many times you went to the comic shop for Magic cards.

Tragedy of the Commons? (5, Insightful)

ODiV (51631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247717)

How long until there's grafiti everywhere, the seats are slashed, and the cars are rendered unusable by the public?

Not that this isn't a great idea. It's just depressing that people will purposefuly ruin things like this.

(Okay, so not exactly "Tragedy of the Commons")

Re:Tragedy of the Commons? (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247939)

How long until there's grafiti everywhere, the seats are slashed, and the cars are rendered unusable by the public?

Depends on where you live. Here in Melbourne, Australia the ticket machines on train stations have about fourteen different anti-vandalisation features. At Incheon, South Korea where I was working last week the ticket machines are little computers with no attempt at protection. They are cleaner, too.

Re:Tragedy of the Commons? (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248055)

Depends on where you live. Here in Melbourne, Australia the ticket machines on train stations have about fourteen different anti-vandalisation features. At Incheon, South Korea where I was working last week the ticket machines are little computers with no attempt at protection. They are cleaner, too.

This is something one notices when one travels. Different care accorded the 'commons'. Some people take a certain civic pride that their city is clean and free of vandalism. Others believe it is someone else's problem to look after everything.

Re:Tragedy of the Commons? (1)

nerdup (523587) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248117)

I'm a member of a car-sharing co-op in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Provided there are structures in place to make vandals and people who abuse the cars pay up for their actions, there's no reason something like this couldn't work just fine. The proof-of-concept is already working in many cities around the world.

agreed (1)

ODiV (51631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248325)

A key passage from the article:

"The existing Zip Car rental system has shown that people are willing to be part of a service that rewards members who are good custodians, according to Lark. He said the City Car could create the same type of community feeling of responsibility."

Your example of car-sharing is a good one. Hopefully if this project or one like it comes to fruition it will be more like car-sharing and car-rental and less like shopping carts and community bicycles (in North America anyway. Other commenters have pointed out that some cultures are more respectful of publically available resources).

My pessimism comes from assuming that the kiosks will be automatic and insufficient to monitor damages and that someone will eventually ruin it for everyone. I hope that such a project will sucessfully come to fruition, but I remain skeptical that people will find a way to screw it up.

Re:Tragedy of the Commons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21248159)

Uh, because you'd have to use your credit card to take one out and they'd kinda know who did the graffiti or slashed the seats??

Shared Cars = Yellow Bike = Failure (2, Insightful)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247743)

So, the cars would be used as "a system of shared cars with kiosks at locations around a city" and the TFA says the program would be like a "bike-share program". In other words, it sounds like a lot like the "Yellow Bike" program. Anyone remember that? Place a bunch of bikes out where anyone could take them, believing they would return them when done. Yeah, that worked out exactly as well as you would expect: a colossal failure where the bikes were quickly stolen and sold for drug money. [blogspot.com] Guess what? Communism doesn't work. See also: The Tragedy of the Commons.

People like owning private property. In fact, they like it so much that given a chance to "borrow" a vehicle, they'll never return it. But if someone follows through on this idea, thefts will probably go down for a week or so when the same people who stole yellow bikes to support their drug habit do the same with the cars, at a much higher profit.

Re:Shared Cars = Yellow Bike = Failure (2, Informative)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247849)

If one is charged for every day that they keep the car, they would return it pretty quickly. They are not giving the cars away. They are being rented out.

Re:Shared Cars = Yellow Bike = Failure (1)

Elder Entropist (788485) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247881)

Of course, all of that was addressed in the article. They wouldn't be free (as buses aren't free), they would require a credit card which would act as both payment and deposit. Furthermore, they would have GPS tracking systems and would get their power from a shared grid, which would render them useless off the grid.

simple solution (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247929)

This is so simple. In order to drive, a valid credit card and driver's license is required, even if driving the car is free. Don't return it and the cops will be at your door.

biometrics required? (1)

ODiV (51631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247985)

How would you ensure that the credit card and driver's licence belong to the driver?

I still see theft as a potentially big problem for these cars. Abuse/vandalism even moreso.

Re:biometrics required? (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248091)

There could simply be a guy at the 'car station' to swipe them, then give you a ticket to actually open the car.

other ideas (1)

ODiV (51631) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248155)

Another approach for the cleanliness and vandalism issue would be to make the whole thing out of super hard plastic or something (no comfy seats, sorry; bring your own cushion) and have a pressure washer at the return end. Then at least we keep it automated.

Still not sure how to keep the automation and prevent use by stolen CC/identification. Maybe the kiosk could tie in with the CC companies' online verification systems that are already in place?

Re:simple solution (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248037)

Okay then...

How do you prevent someone with horrible hygiene from renting one? Do you want to get into a smelly vehicle with a mucous-covered steering wheel and god-knows-what stains on the seats? (note: this question is NOT directed at folks who regularly use NYC taxis)

And as a communicable disease vector, these things would be really potent.

And if you complain about the condition of the car? How do we know YOU didn't ding the door? How do we know YOU didn't rip the seats and leave that crusty residue on the door handle? Eventually the company will start fining the people who report the problems. Don't think it will happen? Then you've obviously never reported a property crime to the police. You instantly become their first suspect.

It's a great idea for the movies, but not in reality.

Re:Shared Cars = Yellow Bike = Failure (4, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248013)

Well, just because it doesn't work in America, doesn't mean it's failure in other countries. I remember when I was in Sweden, they had a truly amazing bike share program. Basically, at a bunch of depots throughout a city, there will be a bunch of bikes you can grab to get where you're going. And it's not a bunch of crappy bikes either, they're very stylish, customized, have intricate patterns, mods, you name it. The way it works is you just go up to one you like, break it's connector (you can use a rock or whatever) and ride wherever you need to go, and just drop it at the nearest depot when you're done.

The locals are also very concerned for your safety. Whenever I rode off in one, people would run after me, yelling frantically about something. I ignored them of course, because my Swedish is pretty weak.

So really, it just depends on the culture.

Re:Shared Cars = Yellow Bike = Failure (3, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248061)

Guess what? Communism doesn't work. See also: The Tragedy of the Commons.
Public libraries are the same. Let people borrow books? Yeah right, they're just going to steal them and not return them. These library things are never going to catch on. People would rather own books so that they can have them sitting on the shelf even after they're finished reading them.

And what's this I hear about a company called Zipcar offering hourly car rentals in cities all over the US? Ha! It'll never catch on. I'll bet those commies will find their shared cars being full of graffiti and ripped seats and radios ripped out for drug money.

Re:Shared Cars = Yellow Bike = Failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21248249)

Except that no one's saying you get to drive off with a car for free. You have to provide (presumably) valid ID and a credit card in order to rent one.

But hey, don't let that keep you from a good screed against "communism".

Re:Shared Cars = Yellow Bike = Failure (1)

kidcharles (908072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248319)

Yeah, that worked out exactly as well as you would expect: a colossal failure where the bikes were quickly stolen and sold for drug money. Guess what? Communism doesn't work. See also: The Tragedy of the Commons.
This is the result of scarcity. If there is an abundance of bicycles that anyone can use, the monetary value of the bike based on its scarcity is zero. The value of the bike in terms of its actual usefulness to get you from one place to the other remains, having absolutely nothing to do with the number of bikes in existence. If you only put 100 free bikes on the streets in a major city, that's only a tiny fraction of the total number of bikes, so the impact on the monetary value of a given bike is nil. Therefore they still have monetary value, and are a target for theft. If you put 100,000 bikes into a major city, their monetary value would be nil because they are everywhere, and not worth stealing because individual ownership of a bike becomes unnecessary. You may say that there would be an incentive to steal the bikes and bring them to a place where they are scarce and therefore still have monetary value. This will happen if the abundance is localized, but not if there is abundance everywhere. Collective property can only work when there is global abundance, or when there is serious deterrent to theft/misuse. People may still abuse the bikes, which is a separate issue, but a program like this will obviously require maintenance anyway.

Is it just me or... (4, Funny)

Komi (89040) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247793)

Does this guy [news.com] look like he's peeing on the car?

Re:Is it just me or... (1)

Jartan (219704) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247901)

Does this guy look like he's peeing on the car?


Do you really want to touch that door handle? Well, do you punk?

Re:Is it just me or... (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247991)

Actually on closer inspection of the guy's reflection it looks like he's rubbing the car while having his hand in his front pocket.
I'll leave it up to you to figure that one out.

Complexity (4, Interesting)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247803)

Let's create a vehicle twice as complex as anything out there. Oh, and while we're at it, let's change the whole social structure of car ownership. Now, if this actually goes anywhere, super and good for them, but how many of these radical concept cars do we hear about once and never again?

Personally, I think simplicity is an important feature in machines; it means they cost less to make and cost less to fix. A beautiful example of this is in the form of some motorcyles, [wikipedia.org] elegant minimalism. If you would add a cabin [wikipedia.org] to one of these for foul weather, it should achieve 90% [jwz.org] of what the technical side of this project hopes.

Shared car in fiction (1)

gustgr (695173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247805)

I remember watching a movie [imdb.com] in which there are small and white public cars available to the public in a parallel universe. It is a pretty shitty made for TV movie though.

Re:Shared car in fiction (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247921)

Yeah, I believe Woody Allen had that in "Sleeper" as well.

So when do we get the Orgasmotron?

I get the idea but there is a better solution (2, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247843)

The problem with this is when you have to return the same car. The car is now in a stack. If you could grab any car at any time then it would work.

Anyways, there is a much more elegant soltution to the "Last Mile Problem" in the form of Personal Rapid Transit [wikipedia.org] . These scholars should devote their energy to the study and advancement of this system.

Their "solution" is dumb... (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248303)

These scholars should devote their energy to the study and advancement of this system.
Indeed. Their solution also doesn't solve the traffic congestion problem. Their system is on normal roads and therefore you have to drive it which means you can't do anything else for the 1.5 hours you're spending in the traffic each morning and evening. Christ, their solution doesn't even solve the problem they say it solves... "with kiosks at locations around a city or small community." Which means you still have to go to a kiosk to pick one up, which is just another name for a stop or station.

"said Franco Vairani, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT's school of architecture".

Well that explains it then.

There is already a US system designed by a transport researcher (J. Edward Anderson) who's actually thought about the whole problem of transport, instead of just how to make a car a bit more environmentally friendly.

http://www.taxi2000.com/ [taxi2000.com]

And the UK system, Ultra is actually being implemented at Heathrow Airport:
http://www.atsltd.co.uk/ [atsltd.co.uk]
 

What about the infrastructure? (1)

dfm3 (830843) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247865)

Sounds like a great idea, but what about the journey between points A and B? Even at under 2,000 pounds, the cars look like they're too big for a sidewalk. Or are they designed to be street legal, with the requisite mirrors, lights, and safety features- and forcing you to fight for a position in rush hour traffic among the SUV-driving masses? That doesn't sound very safe.

For something like this to be a success, it seems like it would need to be limited to a small area, with it's own dedicated roads/lanes.

Taxi anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21247903)

Isn't a taxi already a great type of city car? It has several advantages over this contender: You can talk on your cell phone, get a bit of rest, it picks you up and drops you off exactly where you want to go, you don't have to spend any time parking it and if it gets dinged on your trip, you don't have to sit and wait for a police officer to come along and file a report.

Are there really enough advantages of this over taxis to overcome the status quo?

Make it flying and we will have... (1)

psychicsword (1036852) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247919)

Make it flying and then we will have the Jetsons! It will even fit into a briefcase!

Oh the irony.... (1)

zenhkim (962487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247981)

I read about plans for a stackable "modular car system" uncannily similar to this MIT City Car proposal -- back in the 1970's!

Damn, I feel old.... :-/

From the Mote in God's Eye ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21247987)

... "On the ground, Engineers drive at breakneck speed on crowded roads without fear of collision, and upon reaching destination, will dismantle their cars so they won't take too much parking space."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mote_in_God's_Eye#Motie_technology [wikipedia.org]

Next thing that it should have an integrated autodoc [larryniven.org] with the proper spare parts.

CC.

Overkill solution (4, Informative)

ElGanzoLoco (642888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248001)

The article presents this car as a complement to public transportation (I quote TFA):

"The problem with mass transit is it kind of takes you to where you want to go and at the approximate time you want to get there, but not exactly. Sometimes you have to walk up to a mile from the last train or subway stop," said Franco Vairani, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT's school of architecture.
OK, now, I understand the appeal of light-weight, stackable, "community" cars in some cases (such as sprawling suburban environments) but seriously - in most cities there are simpler, more effective means to do that "last mile". Bicycles come to mind as a pretty simple, cheap, and reliable solution. The Paris municipality recently introduced a close-to-free (29 euros per year, first 30 minutes free, then price increases each half-hour so prevent you from keeping the bike all day long) community rent-a-bike service called Vélib [paris.fr] , which consists of over 10,000 bikes located in hundreds of stations scattered around the city. It works well now that the first glitches have been ironed out. A mile on a bike takes about 10 minutes, is good for you, consumes no energy, and is manageable in all but the most extreme weather conditions.

Also, any decent public transportation system should have much less than a mile between two metro/bus/tramway stations - leaving the maximum walking distance to half a mile. That is the case of many European cities.

On a related note, the ever-awesome Dutchs invented the Bike Dispenser [bikedispenser.com] , which I have yet to see in real life but which looks absolutely wicked. In my opinion this looks much more manageable than 1,200-pounds electric stackable cars.

Am i missing something? (1)

zonky (1153039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248023)

Because if it is to avoid the problems with journeys on public transport where you're a walk away from the final destination, where exactly am i supposed to park the car? At a 'park stop' as opposed to a bus or train stop? What indication is there that there will be more space for 'park stops' as opposed to density of bus stops?

obligatory..... (0)

inzy (1095415) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248031)

imagine a beowulf cluster of these

Smartcar + streetcar (+ shopping trolleys) = (4, Informative)

momfreeek (720443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248085)

This seems like the natural progression of a couple of existing ideas: http://www.smart.com/ [smart.com] Smart cars are popular in uk (I don't know about elsewhere). Small, efficient and comfortable. Yeah, everyone thought they looked stupid at first but they are immensely practical. http://www.streetcar.co.uk/ [streetcar.co.uk] A similar hire a car by the hour type scheme with no human interaction. This has been running for a few years in uk and appears to be growing steadily.

Damn Liberals are at it Again (0, Troll)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248143)

[most reviled conservative wind bag]

Efficient? Our cars gets great mileage! It's those damn terrists who are to blame for high gas prices!

Parking? That's why God invented valets!

What is it with these liberals who think we need all this socialized transportation? Next thing you know they'll have affordable personal computers for impoverished nations. Which will only help the terrorists win!

[/most reviled conservative wind bag]

Whatever happened to... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21248221)

public transportation -- buses, underground trains (tube) etc.

bicycles -- have lanes on the road for bicycle use only and have some dedicated pedestrian/person powered vehicle zones without cars. Will also help improve people's health and cut down on pollution.

zip wire transport -- system of 'zip wires' between tall buildings which people could use to move about with. Fast, cheap and fun! Also doubles as a good method of escape from tall burning buildings (esp. for those paranoid of terrorist attacks).

air tubes -- like in Futurama. Or maybe some sort of roller-coaster type system based on conversion of potential->kinetic energy by use of tall buildings and a large spring.

These alternatives would seem to be far easier and cheaper (well, maybe not the underground tube trains) to implement than the proposed 'collapsible car' sharing scheme.

DARPA Grand Challenge (1)

naoursla (99850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248225)

How does this service change when the cars become completely autonomous? Would there even be a need to park them?

Will Actually Make It Worse... (1)

bossvader (560071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248227)

So they take less space to park...

It is the roads that are too crowded. In fact you could argue it will make it worse. Now more cars can be jammed into the same static area, but when the cars begin to move, i.e the system goes dynamic, the traffic will be much worse because the cars need to occupied full size while moving...rush hour...it will be rush day, as it is necoming already in many major cities.

The horrors of walking (2, Interesting)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#21248229)

"The problem with mass transit is it kind of takes you to where you want to go and at the approximate time you want to get there, but not exactly. Sometimes you have to walk up to a mile from the last train or subway stop,"

Yep, that's a big problem. Walking up to a mile? Unthinkable! I'd get all sweaty and stuff.

Seriously, it's funny how fast food is always blamed for increasing obesity in the western world. I'd say we Europeans on average eat about as much fast food as Americans, but we also travel by train and bus a lot more. But riding the bus just isn't as hip as doing Atkins...
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>