The tiny, creepy cars of the future
February 9th, 2012
05:36 PM ET

The tiny, creepy cars of the future

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - There's a great post over on CNNMoney.com about the cars of the future, and how they're going to be "tiny and weird."

Tiny and weird and - I'll add - potentially awesome.

It's not just that they'll be more energy-efficient. That's obvious. These mico-cars also will incorporate computer parts that sense accidents before they happen and, essentially, drive themselves. The hope is that this will lead to fewer car crashes.

Check out CNNMoney's gallery for their full list of some of the prototype cars.

One of those mentioned is the General Motors EN-V, which I test drove last year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Well, I say "test drove," but I'm of course using that term loosely, since you don't have to do much to steer this robot-car.

More on that from a previous story on the topic:

The EN-V (pronounced "envy" and short for "Electric Networked Vehicle") combines two ideas about how to teach cars to drive - using sensors like cameras and sonar to keep the car from hitting pedestrians; and network technology that lets cars talk to each other.

This "car internet" lets the cars link up wirelessly and follow one another in a sort of wirelessly linked train. If one EN-V needed to pull out of the line, it could.

The pod-like cars, which are just prototypes for now (GM says they could be on the market by 2030 at a cost of $10,000), look somewhat like large scuba-diver helmets, or smushed dust busters. They roll on two wheels, which are aligned like the front two wheels of a car, not like a bicycle. GM partnered with Segway, maker of those futuristic-looking transporters, to create technology that allows the car to balance.

Here's a video of the experience, too:

Would you want to drive - er, ride in - one of these? Or are they too creepy-weird?

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Filed under: Future • Innovation • Tech
soundoff (31 Responses)
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  6. Fitzy

    Typical American technological outlook; a decade or more behind and crappy. GM is truly clueless.

    March 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Reply
    • James

      wow so ur driving rtetpy, soon. of course get ur license first hahaha. i know how to drive an automatic car because its so easy to drive than the manual. if its automatic then ur on ur way to driving in a matter of even 5 hours practice.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Reply
    • CharlieG

      couldn't agree with you more. 2030 is so far in the future that the technology that will be available will make this ugly piece of junk a joke. It is REALLY clear that the future vehicle will NOT rely of vehicle to vehicle communications as an essential form of control but ONLY as a minor assist to allow multiple vehicles to operate at maximum speed.
      The driverless car of 2020 is already on the road. There are too many uncomputerized events that can occur on the road to rely of old technology like this.

      What GM should be spending their money on now is how to make a car today that can incorporate future technology when that technology becomes available.

      March 28, 2012 at 12:17 am | Reply
  7. Rick B

    What a joke. Look at what BMW and Mercedes are doing... thats real.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  8. MAW

    Ok, is a anyone else reminded of the movie Minority Report with this article? There's a couple of scenes in there that show cars on tracks that drive themselves. Perhaps thats where this technology is going to go. It will be fun to see. I just hope Tom Cruise wont get one. That guy seems like the biggest d-bag.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:40 am | Reply
  9. GeorgeLeroyTirebiter

    Where the heck will I mount my Rockford Fosgate hardware?
    Will this thing melt down once I crank the amps?
    You all can have all the gadgets you want.
    I'll keep my Jeep.

    February 24, 2012 at 12:36 am | Reply
  10. Frrresh

    This is of course a concept, not a solution or the next cars rolling off the assemly line. the point of a concept is to look at the possibilities for the future. You can also look at the technology google is already developing with its driverless cars. The safety and awareness of the vehicle could potentially but astronomically improved through technology, which could lead to smaller, more minimalistic cars such as these concepts. Of course they would still have vehicles that could carry full families. The other idea there is that highway traffic could somehow hub or link up, maybe even share energy together?? It all sounds crazy now but at the rate the tech is developing, who knows where we will be in 5, 10, or 50 years from now.

    February 22, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  11. PrincessGertie

    How in the heck will these things perform in snow and ice?

    February 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  12. Jim

    How on Earth is something that small going to pass any kind of structural crash test?

    As it stands now it would not be road legal in most countries.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Reply
    • Polymath

      The assumption is that by 2030 cars will drive themselves, be computer/highway internet linked, and that crashes will not happen, thus cars will not need the crumple mass now required for safety. See this related article: http://whatsnext.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/22/the-sci-fi-future-of-driving-its-already-here/?hpt=hp_c1
      Container carrying trucks at shipyards already drive themselves. Air Force drones fly themselves. Commercial airplanes mostly fly themselves while pilots just watch (or sometimes sleep or drink it seems). Supply ships to the space station renezvous and dock on their own. Martian rovers land themselves. Somehow, though, riding in traffic where all cars drive themselves is still a scary thought to me. Perhaps people of the future will look back and be astounded that we were willing to ride in traffic, surrounded by vehicles that were actually controlled by OTHER PEOPLE!

      February 22, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Reply
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  13. Milton Platt

    When cars can all drive themselves and avoid crashes made by human error, they can be made from lighter materials and will be more efficient because of that. The problem may be in the transition when you have light cars sharing the road with suburbans, navigators, and hummers. But maybe the computer controlled cars can compensate for that.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  14. Jeremy

    Looks revolutionary, if not family-friendly.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Reply
    • Sebastian

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      March 19, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  15. Opinion

    They look like big rolling food processors. Obviously an alien plot.

    February 22, 2012 at 9:47 am | Reply
  16. freddie

    nice idea but seems dangerous, in the event of a crash theres not all that much between you and the car hitting you or you have the possibility of being knocked over and with cars that light its not hard for some idiot to drive up with a pickup and a couple of guys and just take it while ur in a store or something

    February 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply
    • cnnewbie

      just fill it with airbags and anchor with LoJack

      February 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  17. lildeekayjayaye

    Hopefully they will make the cars big enough for families.

    February 11, 2012 at 9:19 am | Reply
    • Anonymous

      I think the point of these vehicles is that they are for solo-drivers, those who need to commute on a daily basis but DON'T need a huge multi-passenger vehicle that's wasting space and gas. Think about how much space and gas are wasted on the roads every day by people who drive vans and pickups and large SUVs to work every day by themselves. These EN-V cars are a good solution; at an affordable price, they're a perfect supplemental vehicle. People with families can drive the EN-V to work and leave the van/SUV/pickup in the garage until they actually need it.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • Guess Who

      Hopefully they will make the cars big enough for fatties.

      February 22, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Reply
    • Meredith

      Okay there are some different oitpons: Junk yards depending on the year of the rod, etc. Next, go on e-bay look up the same year car and if you're lucky you can buy the whole car and part it out. Also, look at swap meets, but you'd best know your own stuff, otherwise you may get taken. Hemmings Motor News is expensive, but sometimes worth it because they have parts cars. Do you mind me asking what car you have????

      August 19, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Reply
  18. SEBASTJAN

    the same size car for only one person to drive on petrol, with price Euro 5000 without additional equipment would be an interesting market today 2012 in Europe.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:57 am | Reply
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    February 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply
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