Swiss design company Rinspeed is set to unveil what they bill as a revolution in transportation at the Geneva Motor Show between March 7 and 17th, 2013. The company issued a long announcement on Monday discussing the "microMAX" concept electric car, and a cloud based computer system called urbanSWARM that uses swarming algorithms enabling a fleet of microMAX's to provide transportation services.
Frank M. Rinderknecht, boss of 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 microMAX 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 it is unlike any vehicle we've seen to date.
The microMAX is diminutive, the same size as the BMW Mini, but the interior space is large enough for a driver, three passengers, each with an ergonomic workspace, with room for an unfolded stroller, as well as a refrigerator for beverage service. The vehicle includes Internet connectivity for entertainment while on the move, or to allow passengers to get work done while riding.
The "swarming" aspect of the system has each microMAX communicating with a cloud computing service. Members of the system can book rides using a smart phone application, and the urbanSWARM system calculates routes, destinations, traveling speeds and occupancy of all vehicles in the swarm. It is able to calculate optimum routes to destinations, and even transfers of passengers between microMAX vehicles.
The company envisions a wide range of corporate or urban uses for the microMAX system. One suggested use is for those bus routes that go underutilized. The public transit system would continue the main bus lines as they are, but for side routes the microMAX and urbanSWARM system could provide better and faster service.
The microMAX is an electric vehicle powered by an electric drive train developed from fork lift systems, and designed by Linde Material Handling. The system handles recharging at intelligent charging stations from infrastructure pioneer RWE. The microMAX vehicles also include a noise making system, a.k.a. acoustic pedestrian safety system.