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Transportation Hardware Idle Technology

MIT Media Lab Rolls Out Folding Car 222

Posted by samzenpus
from the sub-sub-compact dept.
kkleiner writes "You think European cars are small now, wait till the Hiriko takes to the roads in Spain's northern Basque country. The two-seater is about the size of a SmartCar, but when parked, the car can actually fold. After folding, the car takes up about a third of a normal parking space. The Hiriko, Basque for 'urban car,' folds as the rear of the car slides underneath its chassis. Every square foot counts."

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MIT Media Lab Rolls Out Folding Car

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  • Cool (Score:5, Funny)

    by cyberchondriac (456626) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:35PM (#38820581) Journal
    Unless it lacks a safety to prevent it from folding while you're in it! :D
    • Re:Cool (Score:5, Funny)

      by Tarlus (1000874) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:54PM (#38820803)

      Obligatory:
      http://pbfcomics.com/156/ [pbfcomics.com]

    • I was expecting more of a Transformer type folding :(

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      If you watch the video it says "easier to get in/out of when folded" so I guess it folds with you inside it.

    • As long as you don't hit the "origami crane mode" button conveniently located on the dash.

  • with enough evolution it could fly and fold even more into a (not heavy) briefcase.
    • Re:Jetsons (Score:5, Funny)

      by sehlat (180760) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:43PM (#38820669)

      with enough evolution it could fly and fold even more into a (not heavy) briefcase.

      Not evolution. Intelligent design should work, though.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      with enough evolution it could fly and fold even more into a (not heavy) briefcase.

      I'm more interested in a Kit. Something which is a basic frame (meeting the usual saftety requirements) where I can ad-on features, change the way it rides, etc, from a box of parts I keep in storage.

      Probably has something to me growing up with Heath-Kits...

    • Yeah, my brain started playing the theme song about halfway thru the summary.

  • by Moheeheeko (1682914) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:41PM (#38820637)
    A car for ants?!? It needs to be at least.....twice as big as this!!
  • Meh (Score:4, Funny)

    by 228e2 (934443) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:41PM (#38820647)
    Optimus Prime would not be pleased with this sham of a car . . . .
  • by youn (1516637) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:43PM (#38820671) Homepage

    still pretty cool and smart (no pun intended)

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      still pretty cool and smart (no pun intended)

      Perhaps something useful for large campuses; industrial, educational or cult.

  • Not to shoot down the article, because this really is a fantastic idea for efficient travel and parking in congested downtown locations, but haven't folding cars been used in urban Japan for the better part of a decade?

  • by undeadbill (2490070) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:53PM (#38820787)

    MIT is showcasing this vehicle, because some of their forecasts are showing that larger vehicles in urban environments are going to be on the decline. This vehicle is intended for use inside urban environments as a shared vehicle (like ZipCars), as most urban vehicles are only used ~10% of the time. It also is electric powered, and will have a variety of electronic safety features. It is NOT intended for highway use amongst homicidal SUV drivers, so those people can continue to "drive" with a clear conscience, yakking on their phones and running over cyclists, etc. without having to worry about something larger leaving a serious dent in their day.

    The showcase vehicle is a sized-down prototype. It is not intended to be driven by ants or other arthropods. Actually, it would be the first publicly viewed prototype, but I've seen concept photos of vehicles in Japan with designs like this. This prototype is going into production with models coming out in 2013, so obviously there are businesses and municipalities already putting in orders to fund this.

    Which means that folks should be paying attention to the sub-text of the discussion going on in the video- there is an expectation that there will be more people in cities, and fewer resources to go around.

    • This vehicle is intended for use inside urban environments as a shared vehicle (like ZipCars), as most urban vehicles are only used ~10% of the time.

      True, perhaps, but a rather meaningless statistic, because usage is not distributed evenly throughout the day. Demand for cars is much higher in the morning and afternoon rush hours. In Spain you can add lunchtime to that (siestas). 10% of 24 hours is about 2 and a half hours, and a lot that can be accounted for by the daily commute....

  • Hemmed in? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eth1 (94901)

    So what happens when you park and fold the car, then someone comes and uses the extra space to park? You're stuck.

    It's bad enough with cars that don't fold when idiots park so close you can't get back out.

    Now maybe if it shortens the car enough that you can "parallel park" head in... Of course then you'd have to expand the car into traffic and sit there while you load up/get in.

    • So what happens when you park and fold the car, then someone comes and uses the extra space to park? You're stuck.

      If you RTFA, you'll learn that the intended use case is for centrally-stored, per-use rental applications in urban areas where many people occasionally need cars but don't own them (similar to ZipCars) and where space is at a premium.

      For this use, folding gets you a big advantage at the central storage location, since you can store them folded in a line and only need access space for an unfolded

    • Also, each wheel can steer independently so you get a zero-radius turn. While the car doesn't fold into a perfectly round shape, you should still be able to rotate and drive out then expand.

  • Great! (Score:4, Funny)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @02:56PM (#38820835)
    So basically, the car comes pre-crumpled, so you don't even have to bother driving it into someone's blind spot and getting creamed. How convenient!
  • Oblig xkcd (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chemisor (97276) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @03:05PM (#38820967)

    I prefer folding cars the old fashioned way [xkcd.com].

  • All they need to do now is make it fly.
  • Great! That leaves a 1 and 2/3 space next to it so I can park my HUMMER.


    Seriously, though, it sucks that all spaces cost the same where I work, whether it's for a motorcycle or a SUV.
  • what's going to happen if there's a beverage in one of the cup holders when it folds up?
  • So how long until I see some yutz driving one of these down the street still in the folded position?

  • That concept has been around for quite some time. They simply built a model of their own version.

  • I wonder if MIT is harboring motie engineers.
  • This will not handle well, period... the physics don't allow it.

    But as something to casually get from point A to B, not bad...

  • "Hiriko" just means "urban". Presumably they didn't feel the need to call it "Hiriko Autoa" because it's pretty obvious that it's a car.
  • They're onto something good with this vehicle. In New York, late at night, or even during the day between two points not served well by public transportation, it can be difficult to get around. If it's raining, that's doubly so since you'll never be able to get a cab. But if you had pods of these around the city that could self-drive to their destination, well, then I could see them doing quite well.

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Wednesday January 25, 2012 @06:30PM (#38823181)
    It's been done and about 9 years ago at that. http://www.netcarshow.com/rinspeed/2002-presto_concept/ [netcarshow.com]
  • Getting parked in was common in Chicago in the '70s, but my solution was push-in bumpers on the old volkswagen. Of course I always had to pull them out after parking. In this case leave the car expanded and just fold to get out. Assuming they keep the nifty remote control feature, or that you're a contortionist.

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