Published on November 14th, 2007 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg6
Eco-Effective Design: Convenient City Car-Sharing Concept by MIT Media Lab
Imagine what cart corals at the supermarket would look like if shopping carts didn’t nest together. Imagine what the entryway of the supermarket would look like if shopping baskets didn’t stack. This would be poor spatial planning on the designers part. Next, image what a parking lot could look like if our cars stacked? We all of the sudden will have a plethora of open space, hmmm why didn’t we think of this earlier?The first innovative step towards stacking cars was the parking structure, where layers of cars could be stacked upon each other. The next innovative step is to actually stack cars up against each other to reduce the absurd amount of space we require for vehicular parking. The concept is a hybrid of car sharing systems, spatial planning, alternative fueling systems, and personal convenience.
Developed by MIT Media Lab students from the Concept Car Design Workshop sponsored by GM, the key behind this concept is the redesign of the wheel and axel. Rather than having a rigid axel, it will actually fold in a way that will allow the car to rotate upwards 90 degrees. In this, the long dimension of the vehicle is perpendicular to the ground while parked. Since each car has the same form and design, they perfectly nest together to reduce surface space consumption. The stackable car will be able to reduce required curbside parking space by about a third to a half. This allows for more sidewalk space, biking lanes, and comfortable city conditions.
Due to the small dimensions, the stacks of cars will be conveniently placed in locations all over the city- where you would normally come out of a building and hail a cab; you can jump in an electric city car and advance to your next desired location. The concept City Car system includes solar paneling on the rooftops of buildings adjacent to the stackable parking depositories. These panels will be the power supply to charge the electric cars while parked.
This car-sharing concept is a solution to the missing link between public transportation and the front door. Often people don’t use public transit due to the time necessary to switch from the subway to the bus to the next bus. Now people can commute into the city, get off the train, jump in a city car, and drive that extra three to ten miles to the office. This is a reasonable solution to a very prevalent problem. Instead of unnecessarily consuming a parking space while in the office all day long, you can use a city car in the morning and evening, while others use it all afternoon; and the convenience of hopping in a city car is what will make this work. In addition, since these cars aren’t personal vehicles and people will be in them on an average of five to thirty minutes, hopefully the new system will encourage people to share rides across town thus influencing our sense of community, status, and ownership.