The CitiPod vision: The future of urban mobility
The CitiPod is an innovative urban transport solution for the multiple challenges faced by cities and towns. Enabling people to move effortlessly and cheaply without pollution of the environment is key to a city's economic success. However, most cities suffer from disastrous:
- Urban traffic congestion;
- Parking limitations;
- CO2, NOx and other particulate pollution;
- Limited safe cycling routes, with reduced use in bad weather.
Most urban journey are under 5km. These journeys do not require heavy, polluting vehicles. Electric cars are not the solution. These vehicles:
- Most cost over £20,000 per unit;
- Require a massive charging infrastructure
- Blight cities with particulate emissions;
- Do not solve congestion problems.
Cambridge Electric Transport's Vision
The CitiPod vision is bold. It will:
- Reduce urban transport carbon emissions to zero and cut energy consumption substantially;
- Dramatically reduce congestion;
- Reduce costs, making it affordable for everyone.
For city authorities the CitiPod offers the following benefits:
- It doubles road capacity, being less than 800mm wide;
- Uses existing road infrastructure better than current legacy use, with no need for new electric charging infrastructure;
- Removes pollution by being electric-powered;
- Consumes low levels of energy being ultra-lightweight;
- Maximises parking space usage: each car parking space can accommodate four CitiPods in drive mode and over 12 in upright storage mode.
- Reduces wear and tear on road infrastructure, being ultra-lightweight (<60kg).
- Turnkey fleet management system enables rapid deployment of bike share fleets across selected areas.
For people, CitiPods offer the following advantages:
- An active and healthy travel mode
- Low purchase price (target price <£3,000)
- Low running costs (estimated 0.5 pence per mile electricity consumption)
- Low maintenance costs similar to those of an electric bike.
- Full weather protection for the rider, who is enclosed if desired;
- Increased safety and reduced injuries compared to bikes:
> By surrounding the rider with a protective cell;
> By being speed restricted, conforming to e-bike regulations,
> By being stable on three wheels, therefore safe for elderly and even disabled riders
- Includes a rear compartment to transport small children and/or shopping.
- Street and cycleway legal for children 14+ years
- No licence and insurance requirement.
CitiPod Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
CitiPods will be available for individual ownership but we expect most CitiPods will be deployed in sharedtransport services. Using a mobile app, customers will:
- Locate the nearest available CitiPod;
- Unlock it;
- Navigate to their destination;
- Relock the CitiPod, when they arrive.
The CitiPod offers an ideal last mile solution as part of a seamless inter-modal urban transport system. Fleets of CitiPods will be available for hire at:
- Bus and train stations;
- Major employment centres;
- Tourist attractions;
- Community centres;
- Other transport hubs.
The CitiPod design team is currently working on the development of a prototype.
The vision is an all-wheel steering, all-wheel drive full suspension recumbent with a narrow track for agility and the ability to lean into bends like a bicycle. The two-wheel prototype above (right) showed that it is possible to have a stable narrow vehicle that tilts like a bicycle and yet can be direct-steered like a car. The CitiPod proposal is to exploit the knowledge gained by this two-wheeled prototype and build a bodied version with a similar driving position. It will have three wheels for static stability, with two electrically powered at the rear and the front pedalled to give geared/chainless front-wheel drive. In order for the design to be stable, all three wheels must be steered. This ability to direct steer (without counter-steering) means the vehicle always goes in the direction it is pointed and does not require the rider to be able to ride a bike. So it will have helm-like steering and also lean in the correct direction, just like a boat fitted with an outboard motor. This is a unique aspect of the design and allows comfortable long-travel air-suspension to be fitted, giving the CitiPod an exceptionally smooth ride. By having electric rear-wheel drive, CitiPod can use differential torque to either keep the vehicle upright over undulating terrain or tilt the vehicle to the correct angle for stable turning regardless of camber or forces exerted by crosswinds.
Once an initial prototype has been developed and tested and the design refined, a test fleet of 10 prototype vehicles will be built and trialled in four cities: Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Tallinn and Paris.
Productiv of Coventry is a potential manufacturing contractor for the test fleet.
Loughborough University is our safety testing and user experience research partner.
CET is currently assessing software developers with a view to contracting the development of the vehicle control system and the fleet management system, including vehicle tracking, security, user interface/mobile app and payment gateway.
The CitiPod business model includes the development of a comprehensive turnkey solution for partner fleet operators in multiple cities. CET has selected Qi3 to develop a comprehensive commercialisation strategy.
CET is working with the National Transport Design Centre at Coventry University to develop the CitiPod Commuter design (see draft designs below).
First prototypes will be produced at the Productiv Group’s Proving Factory in Coventry. An initial test fleet of 150 CitiPods will be produced to trial in Cambridgeshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire. CET is partnering with each of these local authorities to select communities and routes for CitiPod trials.
In addition, CET has partnered with Robik AI, a Cambridge company specialising in autonomy for lightweight vehicles, to develop autonomous operation capabilities for the CitiPod (see Press Release)
CitiPod design work in progress
Our vision for the future includes:
- Autonomous parking;
- Autonomous battery-charging
- Autonomous redeployment for ride-hailing;
- Solar cells for battery charging, further reducing the CitiPod's carbon footprint;
- Dedicated safe routes for rapid movement;
- Fully autonomous cargo models, for last-mile, small-load delivery.
CitiPod sponsorship opportunities
CitiPods provide a highly visible, mobile platform, with unique brand values. They could link your corporation to a unique, green urban transport solution. This would promote your brand and enhance your Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.
Contact us for available sponsorship packages.
CET aims to propagate the CitiPod concept across the world through partnerships with transport operators, vehicle manufacturers and city authorities.