The future of road travel?

10.56 | 12 July 2011 |

A new ‘electric networked vehicle’ (EN-V) – which is designed like a “widened Segway, enclosed in a bubble” – could change the way we live, reports BBC News.

The two seater electric car has one wheel on either side of its ‘flimsy body’, and according to BBC News, its lightweight design makes it as agile as a ‘ballet dancer’.

When questioned about its safety – it has no bumpers, air bags or any other conventional crash protection devise – its makers say that it is smart enough to avoid collisions.

Tom Brown, from the research and development department at General Motors (GM), says: “Unlike a conventional car, which is designed to protect its passengers and pedestrians in the event of a crash, the EN-V is more like an aircraft, in that it is designed to avoid crashing in the first place."

The EN-V was developed to GM’s specifications by the transport technology firm Segway, using gyroscopic and fluid-based levelling sensors to help the vehicle balance while on the move. What makes the bubble stand out is the wealth of ideas contained within it; ideas that, if implemented, could change the way we live, claims BBC News.

The most impressive attribute of the EN-V is its ability to communicate, both with other vehicles and with infrastructure such as satellites or buildings. Sensors, cameras and a GPS system help the car see its surroundings and know its location.

Although it is possible to drive the EN-V manually, it is really designed to drive itself. EN-V was invented to operate within specially created zones, such as the Olympic Park in London or entire cities that only allow autonomously driven cars.

According to BBC News, it is the EN-V’s functionality that really makes it attractive. Being autonomous, drivers could read, have teleconferences or sleep while being driven around in them.

Although the concept of the EN-V could revolutionise urban mobility, there are obstacles that would make it difficult to be successfully implemented: Laws would have to change, licensing and safety regulations would have to be considered, and manufacturers would have to agree on a common solution – otherwise the concept would be defeated.

Click here to read the full BBC News report.


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