Finding parking space can be a very stressful experience, and it’s been the cause of so many delays, including, but not limited to commuters showing up late to work due to a sheer lack of parking. But a group of German engineers has found a way around this ever-present problem. And it’s a “flexible” electric car that could drive sideways, or even shrink itself just so it could squeeze into a parking space.
Bremen-based DFKI Robotics Innovation Center came up with the EO Smart Connecting Car 2, a vehicle that’s been in the works for several years since the first version’s original unveiling in 2012. And on this second version of the Smart Connecting Car, the engineers have come up with a way to make the vehicle drive sideways, thus allowing it to sneak into tight parking spaces, apart from having each wheel powered by individual motors. Other than that, it drives like your normal car would, despite the peculiar appearance.
And it also works very quickly when “contorting” itself. “The whole process — the transition between normal driving and driving sideways — takes about four seconds,” commented project manager Timo Birnschein. “It is able to reduce its own size by about 80cm, which makes it almost as small as a bike in length. And with this kind of feature you can go into very tiny parking spaces,” he continued, explaining its shrinking feature. “You are still able to turn on the spot, you are still able to drive sideways and you are still able to connect to charging stations, for example.”
The EO Smart Connecting Car 2 won’t set any track records, as it only has a top speed of 40 mph. And it can only go 30 to 44 miles on a four-hour battery charge. The main thing about this “micro car for a megacity” is that it can move sideways, and also shrink itself, but it may be some time before it’s fully ready for city streets. Birnschein and his team are also working on autonomous features such as the vehicle’s auto-pilot and self-parking capabilities.
“(It) is very comparable feature-wise to the first prototype,” Birnschein related. “The second version is much more reliable and almost road-legal. It’s not really, but it’s almost there and we are trying to bring this car to the road — but it’s a big hassle to be honest because we have so many new technologies in the car that the technical advisory guys are skeptical.”