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SVOboy 01-22-2008 01:00 PM

Designs for a downsized future
Check out this recent NYT article discussing designing around the theme of "Smaller. Better. Safer."


DETROIT — One of the more refreshing displays here at the auto show, which runs through Sunday, is one for the Michelin Challenge Design, an annual competition held by the French tire maker.

At a press conference celebrating the winners last week there were many reasons for optimism — and not only because there was nary a black turtleneck in sight. The vehicle concepts showed a variety of intrepid solutions in addressing the theme of this year’s challenge: “Smaller. Safer. Better.” That theme fit rather well with the overall message of green and clean evident from the automakers all around us.

“The average weight of a new car in the United States is more than 3,500 pounds,” said Vic Koelsch, whose job as president of Michelin’s worldwide original-equipment passenger and light truck tires business is directly affected by the bloat. “That’s up 15 percent in less than 20 years. Light trucks have grown even more dramatically — increasing almost 1,000 pounds in the last 20 years to a current average of 4,700 pounds.”

TomO 01-22-2008 01:44 PM

Anyone remember the movie iRobot? I was fascinated with the Audi ball drive system from the get-go. I am really interested with where they may be able to go with that type of system. The potential for LRR "balls" would be pretty good. I predict that due to costs, if a prototype vehicle were ever actually produced that it would have three wheels, simply due to the fact that it would require less technology in the form of the computer having to stabilize the vehicle. The maneuverability of a vehicle like that would be awesome! Parallel parking would be a breeze as well as accident avoidance would be much better, i.e. dodging animals/debris on the highway while still maintaining vehicular stability.

I also believe that vehicle drag could be reduced knowing that the "wheels wells" could be closed off completely. That coupled with the new design'd end up having a production vehicle very similar to that of the movie:

I am curious as to how suspension would be worked into the driveline equation though.

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