Collapsible stackable city car


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About the project Edit

The Bit Car, designed by Franco Vairani, is a system for urban transportation based on the premise of finding ways to reduce the wasted space that vehicles take up when they are not being used. Bit Cars are shared vehicles for short trips within a city. Users are members of a system by which they have access to a car when they need one. These small electric vehicles for two passengers would be parked in stacks throughout the city. Users simply take the first car of the stack and drive away, and then return it to the back of another stack when they reach their destination. The design uses a simple pivoting mechanism to fold the structure in almost vertical position. Additionally, the back wheels are closer together, which allows for the next car to be interlocked. The Bit Car is the result of a research team organized by Prof. William J. Mitchell to explore new ideas for vehicles in the future. The workshop is hosted by the Smart Cities group at the MIT Media Lab, where General Motors is a sponsor.

The argument of the Bitcar is that the problems associated with the massive adoption of automobiles are partly the result of an outdated set of design premises for the automobile which have not changed since it appeared in the late 1800's. A typical car is too big, too heavy, most of the times it only transports one person for a few miles, and then it remains unused for 95% of the time. These inefficiencies multiplied by the staggering number of vehicles in circulation have resulted in huge energy losses, pollution and vast portions of the city lost in support systems for the car. The car is still in the prototyping stage and many models are being considered.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

The Bitcar proposes a different approach to urban transportation, by combining the advantages of mass transit with the convenience of personal mobility. Instead of designing automobiles to fullfil any kind of travel need and additional parking structures destined to accommodate 85% of these automobiles, the Bitcar proposes a reconfiguration of the car based on the characteristics of the majority of vehicular urban travel.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

Car stacks eliminate the residual space between cars, reducing the required space for parking to a ratio of even 8:1 (up to 8 bit cars can fit in the space taken by one standard vehicle). Car stacks are also a docking station which allows Bit Cars to recharge its batteries while parked. This overcomes the problem of electric cars' limited range. Stacks could be located virtually anywhere within the electric grid, with critical mass in popular destinations within the city, such as dense residential complexes, malls, recreational areas, etc. More importantly, they can be easily combined with multimodal points such as airports, subway stops and train terminals to extend the coverage of mass transit and provide personalized mobility. Bit Cars are part of the physical network of the city, but they also act as communication agents, exchanging information with the information network.

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