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Saturday, September 22, 2012
Air Pod 09-23
The Airpod is a new entry into the alternative car market. It's small and futuristic looking like many other models, but with one key difference: it runs on air. Sound too good to be true? Well it's no joke. India's Tata Motors is developing the concept car that contains a pneumatic motor that uses pressurized air to drive the pistons. Aside from the "free" fuel, emissions are virtually non existent.
It's a tiny little three-seater designed for urban driving. The small size also helps the power generated from the engine better propel the car. It holds about 175 liters of air that will take you about 125 miles; Tata reports top speeds of around 50 mph.
When you need to fuel up, you will either head to specialized charging stations or activate an onboard electric motor to suck more air in. The brakes are electronically controlled, and the differential is managed by the speed of the rear wheels.
Tata has been working on bringing this kind of car to the market for some time (the video below, for instance, is from a CNN report in 2010). The company bought the rights to the engine — created by Luxembourg-based MDI — some five years ago. Tata now reports that is has moved past the testing phase with vehicles, and are looking at the next stage prior to launch.
It's not clear what the next stage means by Tata's definition, though it could be how the car is configured. The video below shows the car originally being driven by a joystick — it could be Tata is working on creating a more traditional interior and driving experience.
From the exterior, the Airpod looks much like many of the other "nano" cars out there. Small and round, it's understood there isn't much room for anything other than getting you there.
The needs and uses for cars change over time and there could very well be a big market for a little pod that just gets us there; and if it gets us there on air — even better.