Macmobile: The Automobile as Appliance
What would the Macintosh equivalent of an automobile be like?
This was one of my senior theses at Art Center College of Design. The idea for Macmobile was that cars should become as easy to use, care for, and live with as appliances. They should be smart and capable of many of the advances now standard in the world of personal computers.
Nathan Shedroff: Design and Production
Andy Odgen: Advisor
Could a car be as easy to use and maintain as a refrigerator?
What kind of car could be the next to succeed behind the Citroen 2CV, the VW Bug, the VW Rabbit, and the Honda Civic Series? Cars for people who want transportation-not trouble.
There was a time when appliances wre relatively rare and appropriatly unreliable, both for use and repair. Now, appliances such as refrigerators, tlelphones, televisions, and the like are more than commonplace, they are almost necessities. There is little anxiety associated with most of these products because their operation and maintenance is so simple: you plug it in and it works. Technology is now making it possible to associtate this level of simplicity and reliability with transportation.
This does not mean that the automobile must be simplisitic in its capabilities. In fact, it will continue to be more sophisticated in its uses and capabilities. However, they will meet our needs in clearer ways as we allow automobiles to take on more responsibilities.
Rather than spend the majority of time on the exterior styling, a smarter car can be developed by caring more for the interior where drivers and passengers spend the majority of their time.
Many autombiles attempt to separate drivers from the environments in which they drive. While this is necessary to some extent (wheather, saftey, etc.), it can lead to drivers who are less aware of the road and others on it. To surround drivers and make their environments unapproachable is a mistake and this project seeks to integrate the environment into the driving experience.
There are many technologies, materials, and processes, some new, some already established, that can be used to build cars less expensively, make them last longer with less cost, and lesses costs of shipping, ordering, delivering, and repairing. This project seeks to develop new ways to order, manufacture, and deliver automobiles so they are less costly in all aspects.
Both the interior and exterior should be more easily personalized than is common in cars today. This follows a trend and interest among consumers in configuring their purchases-especially those things they use often-so that they reflect their owners. New ordering and manufacturing technologies, materials, and processes can make this a reality now.
The intent of this project is to design a modular, flexible, and efficient automobile system that meets the needs of markets around the world, including new markets. This would help spread the development costs across many more units as well as meet the needs for a vastly larger number of drivers and passengers.
A "smarter" car should be able to take more care of itself in regards to safety, theft, and maintenance. Their is an opportunity to integrate the instructions for the auto's operation into the process of driving more fluidly.
Cushy exterior in crash zones, velcro-body panels, customizable/cheap exterior parts, modular rear (wagon, sedan, hatchback, saloon, etc.), autojack and quick-release wheels, display on flexible stalk in engine compartment
The engine design creates a simple, modular, and expandable power plant that is also light, and efficient. The engines chosen provide a vareity of feul options, including, electric, gasoline, deisel, and methane mixes. The standard, gasoline engine, uses modular rotary chambers to build engines of increasing power. One rotor configurations may be used for autos intended for light use, such as commuting. Two rotor modules can be stacked to provide more power for more general uses, and three rotors can be stacked to create a very powerful engine that uses little space.
The rotary engine design was chosen because it provides excellent power and torque for it's size and displacement, is very fuel efficient, and has few moving parts. The problems of past rotary designs have been with the complex seals, now solved with appropriate, more durable materials (swuch as polymide plastics). This also leads to an engine that is easy and inexpensive to both build and repair.
The engine is designed to use a variety of fuels if necessary, changing only a minimum of components and programming. All connections for power, fuel, coolant, etc. are designed to be standard, inexpensive connectors that need neither tools, nor excessive force to use. This makes the maintenance and care of the engine (and all components of the car) easier.
A special turbocharger doubles as a supercharger at low speeds. The vanes of this "turbosupe" are driven by a simple mechanical connection from the engine, providing rotational motion until the air pressure of the exhaust system is great enough to turn the turbocharger itself. This keeps the torque of the motor, and the power as well, as high as possible at all times, increasing the fuel-efficiency.
swivel seats? sunroof, lots of glass (all glass door?), placement of controls and door openers, no toxic materials, large rear-view mirror, piezo-speakers/placement, lots of personal storage (briefcase...), first aid kit rear phones, environmental controls, spot heaters, velcro/patterns/color/fabric options
standard connectors (PCMCIA), configurable displays, multilingual, integrated programming and instructions, personalizable, voice command, PlainTalk, ignition code/key/security system, communications system (cellular...), integrated driver's handbook.
Several manufacturers would be chosen to undertake this project, not only to share the investment and other costs, but to maximize the influence of the project as well as use local expertise of many markets to improve the manufacturing, sales, and shipping processes. The global success of the project would depend on the participation of at least one manufacturer from Japan, one from Europe, and one from the United States. In Europe, it is advisable to use more than one manufacturer (such as one from France or Scandinavia, as well as Germany, and there exists possibilities in partnering with manufacturers in emerging markets such as India and China.
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