Ever go to a big city and wonder how in the world you were going to get around? This happens to me, as my wife and I make several trips to Chicago every year for weekend getaways. The problem is that there are tons of cars there, traffic snarls a lack of good places to park, unless you want to pay big bucks for a 24 hour parking garage -- which is usually what we end up doing. And, Chicago is nothing compared to New York or Las Angeles.

Researchers at MIT think that they have a solution to this problem. Rather than designing a futuristic new type of car, they are scaling everything back. Not that the vehicle is not high-tech, mind you, because it is. One researcher, Ryan Chin, referred to it as "a big mobile computer with wheels on it," Chin said. "This car should have a lot of computational power. It should know where the potholes are." The car is built on a foldable, stackable chassis made possible by centralizing the electric drivetrain, suspension and steering components into each of the four wheels. The vehicle can turn in circles due to each wheel being steerable and powered.

General Motors is a part-sponsor for the program and uses programs such as this one to motivate their own designers to come up with new ideas. MIT hopes that GM will showcase the vehicle at an auto show in the coming years, and hopes to make them crash-worthy for use on city streets as well.

[Source Boston Globe via Tree Hugger]

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