Imagine a future where your car is not only very affordable, but non-polluting as well. We’re talking under $10,000 to buy with its fuel costing about $1 for every 60 miles you drive. Impossible? The future is driving on the streets of Paris — and very soon in Mumbai.
Motor Development International (MDI), a French company, has developed a practical engine that uses compressed air as its energy source — rather than conventional fossil fuels or even electricity which requires heavy batteries. The result, after over two decades of dedicated research, is AIRPod — a new breed of urban vehicle.
How does it work? Well, like a regular engine, pistons are rotating to move a driveshaft. But, in this case, pneumatic motors use pressurized air to slide the pistons back and forth. You can top off the 175-liter tank either at a specialty fuel station or by switching on an electric motor to take in air as you drive.
Small and maneuverable, with a range of 125 miles, the AIRPod is perfectly suited for city life. The units can easily seat 3 adults or be reconfigured as a single-seater for hauling cargo and making deliveries. According to The Atlantic, India’s Tata Motors is bringing the AIRPod to market:
Tata bought the rights to sell MDI’s creations in India five years ago, but the project’s proven difficult to get popping. But in May, the motor giant announced that it had completed the “first phase” of the Airpod, successfully testing out the engines in two vehicles. The Airpod team presumably is now in Phase 2, polishing up on the hardware in advance of a commercial launch.
The AIRPod’s playful sense of functional aesthetics reminds me of another low cost, fuel efficient people’s car, the original Volkswagen Beetle. And, just as its spiritual predecessor changed the automobile landscape for the good, the AIRPod has the potential to redefine how we view personal transportation and sustainability. I’m a fan!
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