MIT Urban Scientist Imagines A Future Where Cars Literally Fold In Half

MIT Urban Research Scientist looks into what transportation in densely packed cities will look like amongst other urban issues.

Everyone who’s driven and parked in a large city knows that size and power don’t reign supreme in dense urban environments. MIT House and Urban research scientist Kent Larson with the help of POLITICO Magazine dropped a video earlier today (Aug. 25,2015) that highlights what living (and driving) in the city of the future would look like. Click here to check out that video.

Some of the best small cars today are already pretty compact. The Smart Fortwo for example at a mere 2,500 mm long is just about 300 mm longer than a standard Range Rover is wide. This compact size enables the Smart Fortwo to park head first into streetside parking spots where normal cars would have to parallel park. Now imagine that upon parking the Smart Fortwo halved its length.

…by 2030 nine billion people will populate the globe and six out of ten will live in urban areas. The choice will be more sprawl or more density.

A large part of Larson’s research focuses around what he calls Mobility On-Demand. According to Larson’s team, 

The goal of this research focus is to develop, test, and evaluate how mobility-on-demand systems can be integrated into compact neighborhoods to create alternatives to the private automobile that are more convenient, affordable, and pleasurable – reducing local traffic congestion, vehicular air pollution, and energy consumption.

A quick look through his research shows that Larson is not only changing how we move but why we choose one form of transportation over another and how we can positively get people to choose forms of lower energy transportation over regular cars. From full-size electric cars and pocket bikes that fold to an on-demand uber like electric covered tricycle that drops off and picks up passengers all around town, the future of transportation can possibly look drastically different compared to standard modes of transportation today.

The technology all looks very feasible and plenty of real life examples have been made in Larson’s lab. The challenge lies in getting major cities to start thinking and adapting these possible forms of transport and technology. Now seems the best time for cities to jump on this research and start changes for a better urban future.

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