What’s billed as a revolution in urban traffic is being unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show by Rinspeed between March 7 through 17th, 2013. The company has developed the microMAX, an ingenious commuter vehicle which merges personal and public transportation in very clever fashion. It is not just a transportation vehicle, but sits in an ingeniously devised crossroads of personal transportation, car sharing, taxicabs, and public transportation. In other words the microMAX is unlike any vehicle we’ve seen to date.
Frank M. Rinderknecht, boss of Swiss creative powerhouse Rinspeed says: “We have developed an intelligent and eco-friendly mobility concept complete with its own vehicle that combines the benefits of personal transportation with those of taxis, car-sharing services and carpool concepts as well as those offered by public transit. It uses the powerful UMTS and LTE data networks in urban centers and operates in real time.”
The system is built from the vehicle, the microMAX, and a cloud computing service called urbanSWARM built on the Harman Cloud Platform. The “swarm” aspect of this has each microMAX communicating over the cellular data networks so that the Harman Cloud platform knows about each vehicle, and is able to direct their behavior using swarming algorithms.
The system allows the microMAX vehicles to be used in several modes: by people driving themselves, by regular commuters in permanent carpools, but also by people looking for on-the-spot rides or needing to cover individual legs of their trip with the help of several “microMAX” participants.
Members of the microMAX community use a special application to enter their destination, and the urbanSWARM takes care of calculating among the routes, destinations, traveling speeds and occupancy of all vehicles in the swarm to determine potential ride opportunities, in real time, as well as any needed transfers from one vehicle to another.
It’s expected this will create an extremely efficient transportation system, without wait times, without prior planning and without detours. Bicyclists will be able to carry bikes on a microMAX, and a compatible electric bicycle has been designed and is being marketed by bicycle manufacturer Grace.
The microMAX has a length of 4.7 meters, or about the size of a BMW Mini. It has space for a driver, three passengers, an unfolded stroller, etc. The ceiling height is tall enough for a kind of upright seat. Occupants also have access to such amenities as a coffee maker, refrigerator for refreshments and unlimited connectivity for entertainment purposes or for working while on the move.
The microMAX is an all-electric vehicle powered by a forklift drive system from world market leader Linde Material Handling. The system is recharged at intelligent charging stations from infrastructure pioneer RWE. Because it is a quiet vehicle they have chosen to add noisemakers, a.k.a. acoustic pedestrian safety system.
The microMAX is a concept vehicle, but the company has gained some serious interest and is pondering entering production.
A range of potential business-to-business of business-to-consumer uses are envisioned including routed public transport, point-to-point commuting services, in-car retailers, food / mail / parcel delivery services, car / house mechanics, on-campus shuttles and further more.
An example offered by Rinspeed is addressing those less frequented bus lines. Public transit systems could focus full size buses for heavily traveled routes, and deploy microMAX’s for the less traveled routes. Passengers can flexibly book their rides on a fixed line and hop on and off wherever demanded. After real-time booking is completed, the optimized route will be defined for the selected microMAX vehicle. During the ride, the passenger enjoys services which have been selected in the ordering process using the integrated online product configurator.
Space: Three ergonomic workspaces per cabin allow an easy hop-on and off at every corner
Speed: Up to 80% less scheduled stops decrease cycle time and optimizes fast lane usage. Guided by an intelligent and flexible navigation system, microMAX saves of up to 30% travel time compared to public busses.
Service: Easy payment options through Near Field Communication ensures flawless speaking during on- and off boarding. Additionally, microMAX can be booked for holding meeting, where teams can run conferences or video calls without wasting time.
Social responsibility: Each ride reduces emissions to a minimum while using maximum space on a micro mobility platform.
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