Right-Sized Personal Mobility: Sharing Narrow Cars

The automotive industry is creating the most energy efficient cars and trucks ever manufactured. While our new eco-efficient drive trains are fantastic, the cars are still much larger than they need to be for most trips. This results in an inefficient use of land for mobility. In our new Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) age, there is an opportunity to create a new type of narrow car that carries two passengers and couple them with car sharing services for when the consumer needs a vehicle with greater capacity.

Denver, Colorado, is like most US cities, where the average car travels with 1.1 people. Considering the average car has five seats, most cars travel at a 20 percent load factor – this is very inefficient. If major airlines operated at such a low level of inefficiency, it is possible that the business would only survive for a week.

In the past, it made sense for consumers to drive over-sized cars, as they had no ability to share a larger car when needed, but with car sharing available in most world cities, it is possible to transition to a new model of right-sized personal mobility.

With a large number of narrow cars in operation, highway lanes can be split and get two cars for every one, which saves space and improves freeway speed in major urban areas. In addition, the narrow car has far less wind resistance – which improves aerodynamics and saves energy or fuel.

Narrow cars: innovations from around the world

There have been a number of narrow cars proposed in the past, but only a few car sharing services were available for up-sized vehicle needs. Some of these designs utilize a leaning body, for great handling features.

One of the earliest proposals uses the heavy weight of conventional batteries to enable great handing with the narrow wheelprint. This concept uses the battery weight as a kind of ballast.

Another automaker that focuses highly on safety created a narrow car proposal. The engineers were able to offer the same level of crash safety for the occupants for their larger, more conventional cars.

An entirely different approach is to create an “enclosed motorcycle”, and use gyroscopic technology for stability and performance. This is a grey area, as the level of safety for the consumer is less, and only a few to none consumers would want to wear a motorcycle helmet inside a car.

If narrow cars become popular, it is likely that there will be a new type of mobility station where consumers can switch from one car type to another. The process will be facilitated by both automation as well as valet attendants.

 

Would you prefer to own an over-sized car or a narrow car? Tell us your reasons in our comment section.


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

Open Source Vehicle: New Opportunities for Mobility Companies

Consumers are being offered so many new mobility services to replace owning a large car, and online shopping is being delivered to one’s home in an increasing level as well. These are changing the needs of what kind of car a consumer might own. Could a consumer own a small near car and rent the bigger vehicles when needed? This could be an emerging new model.

There is a new open source vehicle platform available to interested mobility companies. Some courageous entrepreneurs feel the automotive world is slow like dinosaurs, and disruption is here in the form of what many might consider a brick-by-brick type modular car. The new venture has impressive claims of 100 start-up companies looking to build on their platform. Little is mentioned of 3D printing, but the entire idea is built around low-investment and custom vehicle creation.

The open source vehicle is small and does not seem to be suitable for high-speed driving on the autobahn or other world highways. It is a Do-It-Yourself car with two or four passenger seats with a chassis that can be assembled in less than one hour. They can either be fitted with a traditional combustion engine or an electric motor or a hybrid sports electric engine (IHE).

The vehicle is offered with a package addressing “government regulations”. The vehicle can be certified as a 49 mph top-speed “quadricycle” in Europe, or a 25 mph top-speed Low Speed Vehicle (LSV) category vehicle in the US. These lower-speed vehicle categories do not require complicated and expensive crash engineering for certification, but as a result the performance is limited.

 

Can open source vehicles be more than individual mobility devices?

Bikesharing is popular in many world cities, but often too little of a vehicle for many trips’ needs. Consumers might like something more like a shared “golf cart” in a future city low-speed traffic zone to buzz a mile with some of their baggage or belongings on board. Perhaps, there is an opportunity here for these new open source vehicles?

They can be used as an internal transportation device within airports or large factories or warehouses and also for transporting water, food and other basic supplies in rural or isolated areas.

Certainly down the road, when autonomous vehicles approach ubiquity, when vehicles no longer crash, then we may see a large opportunity for an open source vehicle platform that enables major design freedom – and has no need to deal with crash protection, but this is a long way off.

To think an open source vehicle can deal with serious crash protection for a high speed car driving is naive. The only way it will disrupt the major car makers is if these new options in local mobility, along with even more new shared-use mobility services come together and gain massive levels of consumer use.

Would you prefer to buy a ready-made car or customize your car? Tell us your reasons in our comment section.


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

Moving Cities: Cars Become Furniture

If we can simply open a door in our home, enter our office and 20 minutes later, open our office door and be at a restaurant for a meeting with a colleague, do we ever lose time to travel? In our upcoming future of autonomous vehicles and augmented reality, will we live in a world similar to the movie – the Matrix, where we simply go from one large “box” we live in to another simply by opening a door – at the appropriate time?

Recently, a top design company based in Palo Alto, California proposed a range of new autonomous vehicle concepts, the most radical of them all looks nothing like a car, but a lot like a roving piece of architecture – an office.

The designer of this office-on-wheels feels that as autonomous vehicles take over; our cars will no longer crash into each other and no longer need to be designed for collisions. They will no longer be cars as we know them, rather a piece of architecture that just happens to roll about a future city.

 

It would be interesting to see how new micro-sized electric vehicles could operate both outdoors as well as inside our homes, offices and buildings – converting into furniture when inside – the future of Mobiliture. Now embracing the new possibilities of larger autonomous vehicle systems that are more architecture than vehicle; perhaps it should be called Mobilitecture.

How will moving cities look like

The future is moving cities. A new world of much greater efficiency, where more people can live like the rich do today; living more of a dispersed lifestyle – enjoying life in the city center, countryside and a multitude of other locations as desired.

Our future is about optimization. No longer will we have massive office buildings that sit empty all night long. In the future, our buildings will convert to the form needed. We hear a lot about Silicon Valley powerhouse companies moving into the mobility business, but this future is much larger than simply moving people. It is about fundamentally reinventing the city.

Beyond traveling like the Matrix, we will likely see entire buildings pop-up on empty parking lots when there is demand for them. Roughly 40 large bus or motorhome type of vehicles, all driverless, could park in a pre-planned robotic manner to create a micro-shopping mall in just minutes. Is this design of pop-up modular mobile building architecture? Is it car design? Or is it the job of a future mobilitect to design this?

 

 

When we look at the opportunity for micro-sized automated “cart-pod-based” systems inside large future buildings to dynamically reorganize the interior space layout, we see an ability to customize our buildings for the needs both in the day as well as night. These types of systems could even allow families to travel to another region or country for let’s say a month, and the contents of their home are removed and stored by robotic container systems and their space is rented to another family for a month while they are away.

 

There is also a possibility that in future houses, consumers can order an extra bedroom to attach to their home autonomously when extra guests arrive or for the extra room to park autonomously in an empty area of one’s garage.

 

 

Whether the car becomes an office, a dwelling, or unit of a larger building, it is clear that architecture design will be a key element in shaping this future, as will vehicle design considerations and augmented reality play a major role in deciding what everything looks like.

Leave a comment: If you have an option, would you convert your car into a mobile living space? If so, what would it be and why?


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

How Will Futuristic Communities Help to Improve Transit Accessibility?

Future communities are meant for people and not for cars. Streets will be dominated by pedestrians and bicycles and the design of vehicles will be modified so that it takes up less street space. These micro-mobility vehicles will help residents to connect to and from transit. But the main question is – can these future communities cost less than the ones today?

Creating new smart cities is far too large of an undertaking. Hence, creating new smart micro-cities or smart communities is a better place to start, where the new ideas can be more easily applied and people can experience the new urban environments.

As new shared mobility systems become more common, these new micro-cities make far more sense. Mobility on Demand (MoD) allows us to now right-size transportation. Conventional automobiles are comprised of roughly 25,000 parts and designed to drive thousands of miles if needed. These vehicles are far too large for a trip of one or two miles in distance.

The doctors call it a “capillary” system when there are smaller cells on the inside. European cities beginning to ban cars from the city core fit with this new capillary model.

What does the future community look like?

As we design new cities, we should look to make them wonderful systems that reduce the friction of our current mobility systems. There are many companies talking about how the global middle class is roughly two billion people and now expected to double in not much over a decade. That is a major challenge for making our world sustainable if these new consumers want to keep up the older car ownership model.

There are a few car-free communities underway that limit all motorized vehicles. These developments want cars to park on the edge and all the movement inside is people carrying their cargo. That is not reducing friction, it is adding friction. And while it may be good to carry stuff (strengthen muscles), these cities will struggle to find residents.

Therefore, the futuristic smart community has to offer the best universal mobility (for people of all ages), far better than anything available today and leveraging autonomous or robotic vehicle technology will make living in a new city totally devoid of any friction.

People should have a mobility solution that takes their shopping right into the interior of their loft, takes food right to the refrigerator and also the possibility to drive their couch down to the park with some food and beverage onboard. And lastly, online apartment renting services will grow and we will want a means to leave our loft for another across town or in another city with ease.

 

Main factors required to build such a community

Designing any totally new community requires big partners with financial power. A new design will not allow for homes to be financed from the banks, as all mortgages need to be similar and allow for them to be sold on to other financial institutions.

From a technical standpoint, there are new technologies available today, for example, a well-established company uses a technology that could fit with new local zones and their automated movement needs. These upcoming automated local mobility technologies will enable all new types of futuristic smart communities and cities to be created, as well as informing the retrofit process of our existing cities.

Socially, the challenge is that the new community most likely needs to be built on a greenfield, to the edge of a city. This is where environmental groups have tried to stop the building and stop urban sprawl. But some things in life are counter-intuitive. For example, sometimes we have to speed up on the highway while driving our cars to avoid an accident.

Once a new community is built leveraging advanced movement technology, then people can experience what is possible. From here, retro-fitted solutions can be designed and implemented easier for the many existing cities.

How does the future community function?

The automobiles stop at the edge. It is like someone who lives in a high-rise residential building, like on the 30th floor. In these buildings today, the resident parks their car in the big garage underground and switch to an elevator to go to their floor.

 

Now imagine the big building on its side. The car might approach from the left and park at the edge. Then they can walk or bike in the greenways, or put their stuff or themselves in the robotic tiny size horizontal elevator and zoom to their loft in just a few minutes.

 

To be very futuristic, the pods that move inside ones community could be the same pod in their car. They drive up and stop, then the roof opens and their seat pods drive directly to their loft and into the inside of it.

Public transit can stop in the center of the new community and limit the amount of owned automobiles parked at the edge. Of course, it will be more common to see MoD services on the community edge to extend one’s movement beyond their community.

This intra-community offers the most advanced and futuristic form of first-last mile mobility ever conceived. There are no big cars to crash into the interior micro-mobility system. This completely new model of mobility and robotic movement system will be a showcase for what is possible and vital to any efforts to improve existing cities.

Leave a comment: Would you switch from a conventional car to your own proprietary vehicle that has been slimmed down and right-sized for your needs and why?


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.

Three-Tier Mobility System – Sustainable Solution to Urban Mobility – Part 2

Dan Sturges is a mobility designer and an entrepreneur working to develop an urban mobility innovation resource called “SAM (smart access + mobility)”. In our interview, he speaks about how he envisions the future of urban mobility systems.

What kind of impact will future vehicle types have on the environment and what are the benefits for the consumers?

Sturges: The main initial benefit of using smaller mobility vehicles for nearby trips is that they require less land, energy, and can cost less than larger cars. And few are talking about it today, tiny clean vehicles will be able to drive inside our buildings, offices, and dwellings and become a part of our architecture world. This blends with our Internet of Things future as well.

Remember when cars went from wood bodies to steel ones many years ago, the designers did not try to make the new steel bodies look like the wood ones they replaced. No, they exploited the new technology, and created new body designs we had never seen before, and at some point were designing amazing Corvettes (1963) that could have never been built with wood.

The e-mobility revolution has mainly resulted in new cars being designed that look a lot like the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars they replace. Most of the new e-drive vehicles travel smaller distances, do not go as fast and cost more than the ICE cars.

By exploiting small e-vehicles to drive right inside a building, office building, or home, we are integrating mobility design with architecture. I call this “Mobiliture”. Micromobility vehicles can allow us to move much more quickly in a given downtown location or zone. They can allow us to rapidly-relocate from one dwelling to other using online renting services.

A home “couch” could also be a local mobility vehicle and could be loaded-up with picnic supplies, then activated into vehicle mode (exposing the outside wheels) and a large door opens in the dwelling and allows the “couch” to drive down to a nearby lake for a nice Sunday afternoon for a small family. Our furniture becomes a vehicle for near trips.

Smart mobility innovations will be less interesting as Show Cars, or Show Mobility Systems, but enable exciting, even mind-blowing, upcoming Show Cities, or Show Communities. It is time to move on from the show car focus. And showcasing a mobility system is less interesting than showcasing new cities featuring advanced mobility solutions.

According to you, how will future mobility systems look like?

There is a growing amount of “noise” out there in the land of new mobility. I hear about a new self-driving car technology one day, a concept for shooting people 3,000 miles away in a tube the next, and cities wanting to create a car-free zone downtown. I am working to create a tiered system of mobility to help us with evaluating these ideas.

Today, the majority of all people move about with just 2 tiers of mobility. The use of bicycles and other local forms of mobility are a third. My proposal is:

Mobility Tier 1 (M1): Local (bicycles, pedestrian zones, new local cars, etc.)

Mobility Tier 2 (M2): City or Regional (this is where 98 percent or more travel each day in their cars or using public transit. And there is a great deal of goods movement in the metropolitan region as well)

Mobility Tier 3 (M3): National or Global (for people, this is mainly airline travel. We do drive our cars across the country sometimes, but not that often)

 

 

 

Most people are mainly moving about in the M2 tier each day. Most cars in Chicago, Atlanta, or Los Angeles for example are moving about inside their region or mega-region each day. We drive to the airport, which connects us to M3, a means to fly across the country or to another country all together.

 

 

 

M1 is new. Cities like Los Angeles are working on Mobility Hubs, to help public transit become a more effective option. But not everyone in LA realizes that a complete network of M1 mobility hubs are needed to make the network meaningful for the user.

For example, would you fly to another city if there was no car rental, airport transfer, or public transit services available on the other end? Perhaps not. The mobility hubs being proposed or developed are like baby-airports. It is where M1 intersects to M2.

 

 

 

So as we hear about a tube travel idea to link LA with New York City, we need to see this as a M3 solution. While it is impossible we could travel by tube 3,000 miles from LA to NYC in 1 hour as some suggest. Let us imagine if we could. We would then be able to travel from LA to NYC in 1 hour, while terrible traffic congestion in LA would require us to travel for 2 hours to just travel 60 miles south to Anaheim in Orange County some evening.

That makes me wonder if we should be focused on advanced mobility solution for M3 or, would we be better off focusing on M2 solutions where so much of our movement happens everyday? I think the latter.

And for those interested in traveling to Mars, we can think about a M4 tier if desired, for inter-planetary travel.

Share your ideas and recommendations in our comment section regarding the above proposed mobility business model

Read about Three-Tier Mobility System – Part 1


Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.