“The Soft Car design proposal has axles that swing 90 degrees. It can pull up alongside a parking space and drive in sideways”.
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g n G e h r y , F r a n k Massachusetts Institute of Technology
HE start of a new school year at M.I.T. means that, once again, students are abou theautomobile. On Wednesday, the first day of the fall term, students and interested observers will hear a progress report by William J. Mitchell, a professor of architecture and media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Ryan Chin, a Ph.D. candidate, on a project to create a car for the city of the future by the institute's Media Lab. The design study grew out of Mr. Chin's doctoral thesis, which compared the way cars are designed with the ways buildings are designed. Begun two years ago with help from General Motors, a longtime sponsor of the Media Lab, the project's early stages included a bonding session in which participants learned about vehicle dynamics at the Skip Barber driving school in Monterey, Calif. Though the project is still virtual - a rolling prototype is at least a year away - the vehicle is widely known on campus as "the Gehry car" for the involvement of the architect Frank Gehry. Dr. Mitchell brought Mr. Gehry, who designed the institute's Stata Center, to the program.
So far, the car is best embodied in a tapered silvery shape, part sow bug and part model for a science-fiction film. This is not the way the car will ultimately look. The project is really many cars, represented in cardboard, wood and foam models expressing the ideas of a group of students. Many of these will be on display at the institute's Wolk Gallery through October 15....