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The Armadillo-T electric car folds itself up to park in small spaces

by Mark Tyson on 21 August 2013, 12:00

Tags: PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabzx5

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Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have been working on designing a small electric car that can park in previously inaccessible spaces. Hoping to solve both problems of inner city pollution and congestion this two-seater vehicle provides car-like comfort and shelter from the elements but can be parked in a space similar to that used by a couple of scooters.

The Armadillo-T prototype electric car design is said to have been influenced by the body of the South American armadillo. This animal apparently rolls up when facing threat from a predator (like the much more commonly seen but less glamorous woodlice).

With its armadillo-like rolling up manoeuvre this electric car can tuck away its rear body and shrink from its original 2.8 metres in length to almost half that, 1.65 metres. Phys.org reports that three of these folded up electric vehicles can occupy one standard car parking space. Have a look at the video below to see the space saving transformation in action.

Video doesn't show that after folding the car you can use your smartphone to manoeuvre it into a parking spot

The video doesn’t show the full extent of the Armadillo T’s parkability, as described by the WSJ Korea Realtime blog, the site describes the use of a smartphone to control the folded up car’s wheels once you have exited the vehicle. After exiting the vehicle you use your Armadillo-T app to initiate the car folding process. (I hope there are some safety measures that prevent a car folding while occupied.) Once the car is folded you again utilise your smartphone to manoeuvre your car into the teeny weeny space. Aiding the nimblest of parking feats, each of the car wheels can be independently controlled.

OK, so we have established that this car is easy for parking, what about the other specs? The Armadillo-T has a 100Km range from a 10-minute fast-charge and can motor along at 60KM/h.

In-Soo Suh, Associate Professor of the Graduate School for Green Transportation at KAIST expects this or a similar car derived from it to be one of the catalysts to shift people from petrol engine cars and scooters in cities. Prof In-Soo said “Particularly, this car is ideal for urban travels, including car-sharing and transit transfer, to offer major transportation links in a city. In addition to the urban application, local near-distance travels such as tourist zones or large buildings can be another example of application.” Cars like the Armadillio-T could be commonplace in the centres of megacities in the not-too-distant future.

The research team from KAIST reckon it will be three to five more years before the Armadillo-T is available commercially. Some government agencies and companies have shown interest in the design but, as yet, no large car maker has made a move.



HEXUS Forums :: 18 Comments

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OK this is cool, shame it looks butt ugly.
The back folds up, engulfing the front, why not just remove the back and put the wheels where it folds?
surely it can't manoeurvre when folded up? So that means it needs space to park before folding. Unless you nose in at the roadside i suppose. Looks v gimmicky, plus i'm sure the trolley wheels will catch on every speed bump.
imshimaru
surely it can't manoeurvre when folded up? So that means it needs space to park before folding. Unless you nose in at the roadside i suppose. Looks v gimmicky, plus i'm sure the trolley wheels will catch on every speed bump.

Eh unless I'm seeing things the trolley wheels fold up into the chassis in the video? :)
If it's as light as it looks you can probably push it around like a trolley once it's folded up! In fact, you'd have to be able to move it when folded in case someone parks right under your rear wheels and you can't unfold where you're parked!

And yeah, the trolley wheels fold back into the chassis so no more likely to catch than any other part of the undercarriage.