Image courtesy/MIT Smart Cities Group
We've covered MIT's innovative electric vehicle prototypes before. The City Car, for example, was designed to be "cheaply mass-produced, rented by commuters under a shared-used business model, and folded and stacked like grocery carts" in order to save space, weight and fuel. Now William J. Mitchell, along with several of his students in MIT's Smart Cities Group, has designed an electric scooter that takes affordability, lightweight and convenience to a whole new level. The prototype, dubbed the 'Cuter Scooter' by the students, was "designed to be placed throughout cities for rental, much like the bicycle rental system in some European cities." When parked, the scooters fold to half their size, saving space while the batteries are recharged.Scooters are especially popular in Europe and Asia because of their low-cost and small size. The problem, however, is that conventional scooters are major sources of noise and air pollution (as this writer can personally attest, having lived in Southern Spain for a year). The great thing about the designs coming out of MIT is that they address more than just the fuel that powers a vehicle. After all, while Honda's new fuel cell sedan is cleaner burning and more efficient than a gasoline engine, its considerable size still requires wide roads and large tracts of land for parking.
The City Car and Cuter Scooter, on the other hand, have the potential to tackle land-use issues as well as noise and air pollution. And thanks to the scooter's simplified design, which even allows for it to be wheeled along while folded, production costs should be quite low, bringing energy and space efficient mobility to more people.