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Smart City Cars in the 21st Century

June 28—October 15, 2004
Gallery hours: M-F 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM; Sat. Noon to 5:00 PM
Free and open to the public.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004, 7:00 PM, MIT's Bush Room (10-105).
William J. Mitchell and Ryan Chin discuss the scope and nature of the research collaboration, and steps to defining a new vehicle architecture. Reception, 5:30 PM at the Wolk Gallery (see below). Free and open to the public.

Wolk Gallery, 7-338, MIT

The Smart Cities research group.

The automobile and the 20th-century city co-evolved, each adapting itself to the other. The outcome of this process has been unprecedented personal mobility, but its cost has been high—measured in terms of noise, pollution, traffic jams, excessive fossil fuel consumption, road injuries and deaths, urban sprawl, and land-use patterns that do not support social interaction. Reducing personal mobility has not turned out to be an acceptable way of cutting this cost, and incremental improvements in automobile efficiency and safety have not proven to be sufficient. A more promising strategy is to change the fundamental relationship of the car and the city—to provide the 21st-century city's inhabitants with better opportunities to practice good mobile citizenship.

Good mobile citizens continually make decisions that minimize risks of injury to themselves and others, minimize unnecessary consumption of resources, and minimize waste and pollution. They act not only in their own self-interest, but also for the common good, and their public presence contributes to a sense of vibrant community. To encourage and assist such intelligently ethical behavior, mobile citizens might be provided with automobiles that are not just dumb transportation devices, but intelligent inhabitants of their cities—wheeled robots that perceive, learn, remember, reason, and provide sophisticated, context-aware assistance and advice. Such smart city cars could combine networked, embedded intelligence with drive-by-wire driver interfaces, new propulsion systems, intelligent outer skins, and new vehicle architectures. In collaboration with Frank Gehry and General Motors, the Smart Cities group at the MIT Media Laboratory is exploring designs for smart city cars based upon these principles. The goal is to produce a working concept car. This exhibit presents exploratory sketches and models from the work in progress.

MIT Press Office.

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