GM's Super-Smart Pod Vehicle Looks at Future Transportation

An end to gridlock. An end to accidents. An end to driving. In fact you can conduct a video conference in traffic, and this podcar parks itself. As GM readies to roll out its electric mini-car, the Chevy Spark, as reported in Treehugger last week, its concept electric vehicle, the Chevy EN-V, a two-seater that the automaker has developed was a-buzz at last year's Shanghai World Expo. This next-generation vehicle combines zero-transmission, super-connectivity and other advanced technologies to makes the future of individual transportation actually seem sustainable. Check out the video for a look at how this prototype might actually work:

In our lifetime? In April, the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Company signed an agreement to integrate the EN-V into the "Eco-City" infrastructure. Chevrolet plans to explore other pilot programs in cities worldwide to determine practicality. (LA please!?) Treehugger recently described the Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) at Heathrow Airport.

"By 2030, more than 60 percent of the world's 8 billion people will live in urban areas," said Chris Perry, vice president, global Chevrolet marketing and strategy. "The Chevrolet EN-V represents a possible solution for global customers living in markets where alternative transportation solutions are needed."

The EN-V can be recharged from a standard household outlet and travel about 40 km on a charge. The GPS connectivity and distance-sensors allows vehicle-to-vehicle communications to avoid collisions. (I rode in a Ford equipped with this technology and it's compelling.) In the following video, GM's Chris Borroni-Bird explains how this "mobility system" is tailored specifically for big urban areas, to deal effectively with issues of congestion, parking, energy, and affordability:

Also, the wireless communications allows the EN-V to be driven manually -- or hands-free -- so people who can't operate a vehicle can ride it autonomously, such as the aging or physically disabled. The vision and range sensors enable vehicles to "talk" with each other and the infrastructure, decreasing collisions and selecting the best traffic route.

General Motors will celebrate its centennial on November 3 (actually it was back in 2008 but back-burnered with the meltdown, bailout and re-configuration), and this kind of vehicle gives me hope that automakers are thinking ahead. The podcar could be a solution for "the last mile" problem for mass transit commuters, lets drivers have their personal space bubble along with room for a carpool passenger, and the advance technologies bring an end to wreckless drivers and gas hogs, while being compatible with trains, busses, scooters and bikes.

More on the future's vehicles:
The Future of Transportation on a Planet with 7 Billion People
Are Podcars The Future of Transit?
Tom Vanderbilt Thinks The Future of Transport is Smaller, Slower, Shared
Are Podcars The Future of Transit?

Tags: Commuting | Concepts & Prototypes | Electric Cars | Traffic | Transportation