Mark Wilson from FastCo CalledHe wanted to know if I could help him out with a quick turnaround design for this article. So, the folks at argodesign, (including Ian MacDowell, Charles Hurst, Brian Seiler and of course Mark Rolston) and I started brainstorming. We ended up with this.
DescriptionThe Lane Splitter has hubless steering. When in bi-mode, the front tires split and expand to provide more stability and better longitudinal center of gravity. When in quad-mode the front tires collapse outwardly to traditional standard width tires for better separation.
The rear wheels are powered by separate electric motors. Both front and rear wheels use roll axis longitudinal steering to decrease the turning radius and mitigate the limited steering of the front hubless axle. The docking connectors are situated fore and aft of the vehicle on the docking side lower body panel. The automated docking mechanism allows for automated and quick connection.
A small landing wheel assembly deploys at low speeds to help stabilize the vehicle in bi-mode and augment the auto-alignment during vehicle-to-vehicle docking. The vehicle is 128" long. Overall cost as designed would seem prohibitive at this time. There would need to be more iteration on concept design along with a substantial engineering effort to realize the technology and promise of a vehicle which separates into two as shown.