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South Korea Unfolds Future Of Urban Driving

posted 2 Sept 2013, 06:56 by Mpelembe   [ updated 2 Sept 2013, 06:57 ]

South Korean researchers have developed an electric car that folds in half for easy parking. Called the 'Armadillo-T', the prototype vehicle is designed for commuters in busy urban areas.

 DAEJEONSOUTH KOREA (AUGUST 28, 2013) (REUTERS) - The two-seater Armadillo-T has a dome-shaped body and a rear section that lifts and slides over the front, almost halving its body length to just 1.65 meters (65 inches). Its developers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) say the car is ideal for parking in cramped places.

Suh In-soo, Associate Professor of the Graduate School for Green Transportation at KAIST, says the vehicle's design is based on the characteristics of the armadillo, an armour-covered mammal found in South America and the southern United States, which rolls itself into a defensive ball when threatened by predators.

"We developed a micro compact car inspired by an armadillo's movements for reducing its size to the fullest and expressing its toughness. This is the concept of the design,"

he said.

The developers have also done away with rearview mirrors and replaced them with tiny digital cameras that show the rear and each side of the car on a flat screen mounted on the dashboard. Via a Windows-based computer system that communicates with a smartphone, the driver has the option of allowing the car to park itself.

Armadillo-T is all-electric with two seats, four in-wheel motors and a 13.6 kWh capacity lithium-ion battery pack housed in the front, a configuration Suh says maximises space inside the vehicle.

"We set the theme for the research on the electric car, an icon for environment-friendly, personal-on-demand, and applicable transit system, which can be distributed in large numbers for urban cities and limited areas. In that way, we've started to develop the type of vehicle," said Suh.

Suh says consumers will see the Armadillo T's biggest selling point as its folding design, which allows the car to occupy just one third of a conventional parking space. He says the concept is ideal for big cities like Seouol, where parking parking spaces are at a premium.

"It can be parked somewhere nearby. In other words, thinking about car-sharing system, the vehicle can be our daily routine as it parks in every corner of apartment buildings, shopping malls and supermarkets. I think this is a strong point of the vehicle," said Suh.

The Armadillo-T has a maximum speed of 37 miles per hour and a range of up to 62 miles with a ten-minute fast charge. Suh says the car represents the future of "convenient and eco-friendly transportation."