This is a car my mother would like!

By | January 20, 2012
Small like the smart car means easy to park, affordably priced for a car, and filling up is a lot cheaper (metered compressed air costs very little in some countries, in others it is free). She doesn't drive faster than 50 km/h anyway, so I doubt the speed limitation would impact her… And it's a green car!

/cc +Randal Lovelace may be of interest for your concept car as well.

Reshared post from +EuroTech

AirPod : the air-powered car
A french engineer claims to have developed a car powered by compressed air.

The 2010 MDI AIRPod emits no emissions and runs on nothing but compressed air. Yes, that sounds like another one of those crackpot inventions, but the inventor has organised some demonstration tours with journalists, and they seem convinced!

How it works
The car is propulsed by a piston engine that has been adapted to work only with compressed air. A system of high-pressure air tanks in carbon-fiber built by EADS (an aerospace firm) fuels it. As a prototype, the AIRPod currently drives with a top speed of only 50 km/h. With one person onboard and the car running solely on air power, MDI estimates the AIRPod's range at around 160 kilometers.

The size of AirPod is even lower than the Smart Fortwo, characterized by its small size, something amazing if you know that up to four people may travel inside the vehicle. Despite its small size, the prototype of MDI with an ingenious security system in case of collision, based on a model of air pockets outside the body.

Steering is controlled by a joystick mounted on the right armrest of the driver seat. Acceleration and braking were originally supposed to be controlled by this stick, but MDI confided that the system proved awkward to use.

Market aspirations
In Europe, a fleet of one dozen 2010 MDI AIRPods is already set to serve as passenger and cargo shuttles. MDI confirms that similar arrangements are under discussion with governments, private companies and universities around the world. This includes the U.S. — though MDI remains tight-lipped about specifics. So far only been seen on New Zealand roads, but many European municipalities raffled it for its official units.

Further reading :
An older article in the guardian :

Official website :

Author: +Kellya Clanzig

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10 thoughts on “This is a car my mother would like!

  1. Randal Lovelace

    This design would not pass the crash test for the US – 30MPH impact of a solid would enter into the 'passenger area' which = fail for the US.
    I did think about the alternative license requirement, would have to talk to some people about that.
    3 wheel designed vehicle here require a motorcycle endorsement.
    I've driven some forklifts / lift trucks that used joystick controllers (as well as those with a traditional steering and 4 controls for the lift workings).
    I found it easier to control the joystick type in tighter smaller spaces as it was able to rotate the tires a full 180 degrees – where the steering based could only rotate 60 degrees.
    Another thing – looking at the video again is that the turning single tire is not the 'powered' tire – I mention this because with two power tires and a single turn wheel – wet conditions would be rather treacherous with this design.

  2. Sophie Wrobel

    +Randal Lovelace indeed – I was wondering earlier, if you would need a special drivers licence for the car, since it has such an unusual steering method? And the door/window design had me wondering as well, if this is a practical or impractical design decision in terms of meeting safety regulations and in terms of saving space and heavy material required to allow the door to open and close.

  3. Sophie Wrobel

    If it doesn't require daily / weekly oiling, it might be okay – I doubt your average non-mechanic customer would be willing to put up with such an ordeal, though!

  4. Randal Lovelace

    When you consider that using 8fl oz of oil over using 40 gallons of fuel… it is actually practical.
    I've no doubt from looking at the motor in the video a few more times that this one would use less oil – and It may actually not require in-line oiling but rather static oiling (think of the way a sealed bearing works) as that wouldn't require daily maintenance.
    The 3 wheel design though using less force to move, is also inherently unstable (this can be seen from many 3 wheeled vehicles in the past).
    Overall it looks nice, and for a small city transport it may do well, though here in the area I live it would be very impractical.

  5. Sophie Wrobel

    +Randal Lovelace as it is currently a prototype, I suspect the question of backup power is still open. I doubt I'd be able to comprehend anything from model numbers; but the statistics you list don't sound very practical! I wonder how they solve that issue?

  6. Randal Lovelace

    The motors we used were extremely industrial grade – connected at a constant (regulated) 60psi – they required 'in-line' oiling which was used during running, the container could only old 10fl oz of oil, and it would use about 7 to 8fl oz during an 8 hour run time. The oil used was similar to 3in1 oil. And came in 16fl oz containers (they looked a bit like Elmer's glue bottles with the little screw top closure).
    I could look up the model numbers and such if you would like.

    Another concern – with this concept is: What happens when you run you pressure tank empty? Is there a battery operated air compressor to pump it back up?

  7. Sophie Wrobel

    +Randal Lovelace thanks for the insight – never knew that they would need so much oil! As to efficiency, I think that as with any prototype of new technology, very efficient systems cannot be expected at first go. However, energy efficiency is not always the same as cost efficiency, which may be the winning factor in this case. Do you know if there is a proof out there than air motors cannot exceed a certain efficiency threshold?

  8. Randal Lovelace

    Concept is interesting – however, not as practical as they make it seem. Air motors (no matter the internals) are rather inefficient, wasting nearly as much air as they actually use. 2nd issue is keeping them oiled (and they use a lot of oil) — I've used / worked with several air motors on machinery (we used them for the fact that the environment was extremely hot, and electric motors couldn't take the heat)
    That fact is the only real 'plus' for the air motor – it runs cold, due to compressed air being cold.


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