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Electric car ‘dream’ progress

Parallel parking woes could be a thing of the past if a revolutionary electric car project led by an Otago Polytechnic staff member catches on.

School of Architecture, Building and Engineering programme manager and research co-ordinator Dr Tom Qi is the brains behind an electric car prototype.

The car, which is a collaboration between the polytechnic, the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology and Shenzhen Polytechnic, has four separate electrically powered wheels, which can steer independently.

Dr Qi said this meant the car could drive sideways, making parallel parking much easier.

”You can also take a U-turn without taking any extra space.”

The potentially revolutionary aspect of the prototype was that the four wheels were not mechanically linked.

”The traditional car has been designed using centralised engines and centralised steering that control the activities. This model uses in-wheel motors as well as all-wheel steering,” he said.

This meant a steering wheel was no longer necessary and the team working on the car was looking at other ways of controlling it, including a control stick. In future, there was a possibility the car could be controlled by the driver’s mind, he said.


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