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The future of driving? Chery's coupling Ant concept goes 2.0

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April 20, 2013

The Chery Ant 2.0 (Photo: Gizmag)

The Chery Ant 2.0 (Photo: Gizmag)

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Chinese auto maker Chery likes to keep things local. It chose last year's Beijing Auto Show as the place to unveil its original (in more than one sense) Ant concept, and it's taken to Shanghai to show off the iAuto Ant 2.0.

Again, we don't know that much about the Ant 2.0 at this stage, but it still appears to be a two-seater EV which can couple together with other Ants on the road to form linked convoys.

The concept relies on the Ant's ability to detect other Ants nearby, which communicate to compare destinations. Ants heading the same way can form trains of up to ten vehicles, which is a more efficient way to travel which simultaneously makes life easier for drivers.

How Chery 2.0 builds, or materially changes, this concept is not precisely clear, but it appears as if the front section has been redesigned, which suggests a rethinking (and possible simplification) of the mechanics of the coupling.

Also clear from the display model is that Chery has ease of parking in mind, given the vehicle's doors which slide open parallel to the body. Inside are the obligatory smart-device docks for controlling and accessing the Ant's various systems and information.

Clearly, the Ant 2.0 lives up to its concept status, but does it point to a future paradigm of road transportation? Time will tell.

15 Comments

Oh lord when they just need to use automatic systems to keep proper separation...why do this?

Mitko Ian
20th April, 2013 @ 09:28 am PDT

Hmm... looks like they may owe Toyota some royalties: http://www.gizmag.com/go/2314/

Jason Falconer
20th April, 2013 @ 08:05 pm PDT

re; Mitko Ian

Linking the cars together mechanically allows them to be closer together which improves the aerodynamic efficiency removes the risk that a heavily laden car will "ram" a lightly laden car ahead of it in an emergency braking situation. And possibly most importantly makes it harder to disrupt communications between vehicles.

Slowburn
20th April, 2013 @ 10:42 pm PDT

@slowburn cookie cutter cars linked together is basically a train. The google cars didn't cause any collisions and drove quite long distances. It sure seems like a heck of a lot to give up for a bit of aerodynamic advantage. These cars are boxes with rounded edges so it is hard to consider them to be aerodynamic. Furthermore the linkages themselves add to weight of the car and the complexity of the suspension in addition to requiring adjustments to the cg.

Mitko Ian
21st April, 2013 @ 01:43 pm PDT

There are so many reasons why automated personal transport should be introduced as soon as practically possible, but scanning the latest 25 or so posts in Gizmag, one realises this is still something far in our future, when one sees the Lamborghini's, Bugatti's and other cars more accessible to the public, but no less lethal looking.

Come on people, get real, it's time to start thinking about our future and leave the stone age of transportation behind.

Bas Klein Bog
21st April, 2013 @ 02:18 pm PDT

@Bas Klein Bog

I think automated personal transport and alternative methods of mass transportation are hard to articulate in the form of a single vehicle. In the way that people turn to science fiction for examples of ideas I think video gaming is probably the best platform to demo such a system.

We already have several games with whole cities and traffic systems within them. Creating concepts of cities of the future I think would give dev studios an interesting platform for ideas to work with.

The hardware is there, if they built a game engine able to handle traffic scenarios at scale they could probably license it out to city planners or something too.

Daishi
21st April, 2013 @ 10:22 pm PDT

re; Mitko Ian

The necessary equipment to mechanically link the cars together weigh less than 150 pounds and with all the components having tires at all four corners there is no need for any special balance control.

The Google test vehicles are well maintained.

The lousy aerodynamics makes drafting more attractive not less even if at low speeds aerodynamics is unimportant.

Slowburn
22nd April, 2013 @ 02:05 am PDT

@ Slowburn so you're saying we should go slow so that we can drive boxes. The lower the speed the more important weight is relative to aerodynamics. How well do you think this will work turning at intersections or trying to pass. Have you ever driven in Asia outside Singapore, South Korea and Japan? How do you think this will effect the suspension and cornering? The point isn't what the coupling weighs or if the CG is somewhere between the tires. You have to compensate for all of this in the total design. Throwing systems thinking in the garbage for a pet idea hasn't attracted many customers before has it? What about insuring the cars when they are linked? Who is responsible if there is a crash? If an animal or person or random object goes into the street how will maneuvering to avoid it be affected? This makes about as much sense as a long "straddling bus" that will just be another road hazard. What about status? Who, with any money or autonomy of affection is going to want to drive the same vehicle as everyone else? Who is going to want to coordinate this? How would sales reach a critical mass so that it would be easy to find people to link up with on the go?

And then is everyone going to have to stick with the same technology for years just in order to continue on this one concept? Doesn't that hinder innovation?

Mitko Ian
22nd April, 2013 @ 03:30 am PDT

@Diachi - I think the problem is not hardware or software, everything needed to create a system werein vehicles communicate with each other and a centralised point of information to manage individual safety and general flow on a large scale, already exists in a developed state.

No, the problem is cultural, the car is a status symbol of freedom, expression of wealth, power and individualism. Who in his right mind would spend a hundred thousand dollars on a car? What on earth for would you need a 3 ton -200 mph - 4 wheel drive - monster tho take the kids to school around the corner?

Also cars are made by a multigazillion dollar industry which is perfectly happy with how things are now, because change costs money. Money that, at this moment is harder to come by because of the economical crisis we are supposed to be in.

Bas Klein Bog
22nd April, 2013 @ 09:08 am PDT

Darn Mitko you've gone and made me agree mostly with slowburn!!

Facts are on his side, not yours except his weight estimates are too high as coupling can be done easily in under 30 lbs front and back.

As for aero a box with rounded corners can be very good. google 'NASA aero truck tests' on the box truck they tested and easily reduced the CD to .25 better than 99% if cars.

jerryd
22nd April, 2013 @ 09:24 am PDT

Mitko Ian, most of your questions are irrelevant at this point in the vehicles development it is a concept, not a ready-for-production vehicle. Where in the article did the author suggest that this vehicle will be the one consumers will be 'allowed' to purchase?

You clearly stated that you believe that this concept will hinder innovation - something that can not determined until the prototype is built and driven.

It would be prudent to delay any suggestion that the demise of the automotive industry will be the only result should this concept vehicle enter mass production.

Noel Frothingham
22nd April, 2013 @ 09:47 am PDT

It's the way of metropolitan future driving and many car makers already have such projects, such as GM and the above mentioned ones. I can see this being practical in urban areas and crowded cities. It will have to happen, one way or another.

Nicolas Zart
22nd April, 2013 @ 09:55 am PDT

Not really sure if the coupling is physical or magnetic or... but the idea of forming a caterpillar on the road sounds sort of fun. Like a nice blending of public transit and private comfort.

I would love to get a little car like this, but I need something just a little bit higher off the ground. 1) The roads around me aren't made for something like that. We have potholes bigger than the wheels. 2) The older I get, the creakier the knees and back.

While I love finding an open road through gorgeous country, putting the windows down, and just driving to drive, I find it happens less and less in my busy life. I'm willing to acquiesce to the group consciousness on busier streets and let the street drive me.

Ruth Knapp Vallejos
22nd April, 2013 @ 12:08 pm PDT

re; Mitko Ian

While I believe that even a commuter car should be capable being driven 1600 miles or more in a day several days running (Not all by the same driver) if you are going to do most your regular driving at low speeds and have multiple stops where you get out of the car aerodynamics is less important than ease in getting in and out of the car.

The driver at fault is responsible. If your trailer hits something it your responsibility. if somebody T-bones your trailer it is his responsibility.

Did you really say that a long articulated trailer that follows like it on rails is a road hazard equivalent to the "straddling bus" I like to through the odd hyperbole around from time to time but that's just stupid.

re; Bas Klein Bog

Do you object to people spending there money on a faster computer than the need, a bigger house, or any any other toy they choose?

These days most people buy the least car that meets the largest need. That guy alone in his seats 7 SUV on his way to work probably can't afford an another car and on a regular basis fills all seven seats and wishes he had more room or wouldn't get arrested for having his kids bond and gagged on the way to grandma's and some how she never accepts the invitation to go out for dinner no matter how many times Timmy says he like being tied to the roof.

Slowburn
22nd April, 2013 @ 02:32 pm PDT

re; jerryd

I admit it. I Tend to think in steel and concrete and prefer to over engineer things.

Slowburn
22nd April, 2013 @ 08:45 pm PDT
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