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Driverless car could be parked next to your living room

Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

The concept

The Kube is a concept for a personal urban "roomcar" shaped like a cube. A roomcar would be a vehicle that serves as a means of transportation and as extra space for your living quarters. It's similar to the Rubix concept, but it has no wheels – it hovers on magnetic levitation (maglev) tracks. This driverless electric vehicle aims to change how we use cars in our ever-growing cities, where space is expensive and limited.

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The background

I thought about the Kube while I was working on the Rubix concept. It seemed like an interesting vehicle for townhouse owners, but what about all those people living in multi-story apartment blocks? Subways and buses are excellent ways to commute, but what if you have a car and you would like to keep some form of personal transportation?

Bombardier has been working on an automated people mover (APM) for quite some time. It has proposed the INNOVIA APM 300 system mainly for airports. Consider a similar system built for four people that could whisk you to major access points across a city.

How it works

The Kube is like a driverless car that you can park next to your living room and even use as an additional room. It works on the same principle as a maglev train, which uses magnets to lift and propel vehicles. It takes its energy (electricity) from the tracks, and it's an autonomous vehicle, so it takes you where you command it to go.

The Kube has a boxy shape to optimize interior space. You could configure it to travel with up to six passengers or create a fair-sized office space to work while you commute. New apartment towers and condos could be designed and built to accommodate the vehicles.

The Kube would enter the building using a dedicated ramp, and it would get picked up by a mechanical elevator system and stationed in front of your apartment unit. A large sliding door located on the side of the Kübe would open to let you enter your condo. A similar door inside your unit would open simultaneously by detecting the encrypted signature on your smartphone.

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What's it used for

When our cars are parked at home or in the streets, they take up space, and they are of no use. The Kube aims to alter that by letting us use our vehicles for purposes other than transport. We are already paying taxes for our private parking spaces, so why not put them to use? It would also be easier to enter your home directly with the groceries.

The Kube could be used with a regular townhouse, fitted inside existing garages or serve as small transit units (people movers) in certain residential areas where the infrastructure would already be in place. In this case, you would only pay for your fare with your smartphone.

The design

The Kube images were created by Boris Schwarzer who is a transportation designer based in Detroit. He put a lot of thought into the Kube and Rubix concepts, translating my vision into these renderings. Schwarzer attended the College of Creative Studies, he also created the images for the Daredevil and the Joust.

Charles Bombardier is a member of the family that owns Quebec-based Bombardier Inc. and Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), which are in the business of designing and manufacturing vehicles. Bombardier left BRP in 2006 to work on his own ventures, and in March, 2013 he began to create his own concept vehicles and publish them on his website.

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