The CarPod: Saving The World By Stealing Scott Adams’ Ideas

The Green and Black Smart Car (My Favorite)On his blog today, Scott Adams’ put forth an idea of how to handily deal with a laundry list of problems plaguing the world today, including energy consumption and international oil dependence, terrorism, drunk driving and pollution. (And a few other items that are so politically-charged and boring to me that I won’t bother to mention.) To sum it up in a heavily hyphenated sentence, GPS-phone-enabled, Google-powered car-pooling.

Basically using the power of your GPS-enabled phone and a service provided by some behemoth like Google, people could enter a destination and automatically be connected with somebody heading that way. Web 2.0 hitchhiking, essentially. And in an attempt to anticipate problems that might arise from hitching the ride with the wrong person, you would be able to configure your service to filter out people based upon a number of predefined criteria. (Age, sex, propensity to mistreat kittens, etc.) Also, applicants to the service would be screened to eliminate obvious problems such as ax-murders and sexual predators. And anyone who forwards chain email.

In all, a pretty well consider solution. If you haven’t read it already, give it a read. Because I’m going to address the flaw I see in the system. The biggest problem I see with it is that people just don’t like sharing their ride with other people. If you’ve ridden a bus or the subway, you know you can’t count on people to bathe or be considerate. And if you’re commuting to or from work, you’re probably tired and just want to be left alone. Even with the incentives built into Mr. Adams’ plan, it will only take one sick drunk on a Friday night to change your mind about carpooling.

So the plan is doomed for failure, right? Well, not quite. This is where Brian steps in and harness the power of his caffeine-infused cranium to save the day. With mind bullets! No, wait, sorry, the mind bullets are for another post. I got carried away. :)

Anyway, what we actually need is to revamp the way the bus system works. I’m talking about literally gutting the buses. (Stick with me here, it’ll make sense in a minute.) Here’s how it will work. The same system Mr. Adams described with the GPS-enhanced phone and ride sharing service would apply here. Except, you would dock that phone in a “CarPod” (hey, everybody else is ripping off the iPod, why not me?). A CarPod will be a small, solar-powered, single person vehicle. Kinda like the Smart car shown above, except a lot smaller, and lot more boxy. A bit more like a large phone booth with really cozy chair.

When you need a ride someplace, you hop in a CarPod, dock your uber-phone, enter your destination and it will coordinate with the nearest bus. Either you or the CarPod drives to a nearby intercept point with the bus. (We’ll say the CarPod does it, because we’re talking about the future, and cars just have to drive themselves in the future.) And here’s the cool part; the reason you’ve been reading this post. Instead of getting out of your CarPod to get on the bus, the CarPod docks with the bus and takes you along with it. You see, the bus is merely a large, green-fuel-propelled CarPod carrier. Kinda like the transports shown in this action sequence from I, Robot:

Except instead of being full of evil, human-killing robots, it’d be full of evil, meeting-calling, email-sending co-workers. Tell me you wouldn’t ride the bus all the time if you could do it in a CarPod.

Why the bus? Because buses already cover more ground in the U.S. than any other form of mass transportation. And because it uses existing road systems. We wouldn’t have to dig large expensive tunnels through cities to accommodate this. We could also outfit the existing subway trains to function in a similar way, which would also be cool, but not as practical.

Of course, the CarPod would have many of the features of the modern car, and a few that aren’t legal, like user-controlled window blackening. And television. Just for fun, here are the kind of features I imagine the CarPod having.

CarPod Features

  • User controlled window blackening. This way you can have all the privacy you could possibly want while still riding mass transit. You could sleep, or even change on your way to or from work. You could even work on your secret plans for world domination without need of one of those laptop privacy screens.
  • Cozy reclining chair. The CarPod will be small, but not airplane-seat-small.
  • Air Conditioning. No brainer.
  • Television/Music playing system. Who knows what crazy space-age way we’ll listen to tunes and watch the tube in the future. Rest assured that it will be very compact, whatever it is, and that the CarPod will have it. It will likely be integrated with your futuristic GPS-enabled phone.
  • Steering system. In case you need to actually drive the thing. Which you won’t. But it’ll be there because some politician or another will make a big deal about it. And probably an organized group of overly concerned mothers.
  • Built in humidor. Since I’m making this thing, it will have a humidor and a cigar-sized ash tray. And a built in cigar lighter. Hey, it’s single occupancy, so don’t give me any crap about bothering other people with second hand tobacco perfume.

Now quick, somebody build one, because I want to ride my CarPod home from the office. I’m tired.

P.S. I’ve trademarked the term “CarPod”. And “Commuti-Car”, just in case. Licensing available! And at great rates!

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8 Comments

  1. June 13, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Love the concept and of course, only a car with your design specs would come with it’s own humidor, but what the hell!!! Might as well drive a car that appeases to every little habit…bailiwick…jones…weakness….the works.

    Guess if that’s the case, one of my car designs would include vibrating seats.

    It could happen!

    Enjoyed the post and as always…
    DRINK FERAL…my bruthuh!!!!!

    Laurie

  2. danariemer said,

    June 13, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Interesting. Though, the carpod has already been thought up. It’s called the Snap! Multicar. You can read all about it at http://www.time4.com/time4/microsites/popsci/futureofcars/concept_snap.html

    P.S.
    Though it still takes up road space, the Zap Xebra is a completely electric car being sold here in the US (you can buy them in Salem). They cost about $10,000 instead of the closer to $50,000 pricetag of other EV’s.

  3. Joe Drinker said,

    June 14, 2007 at 10:36 am

    Since I can’t even count on my phone to send and recieve calls, I’d be loathe to trust my livelihood and safety to it any more than I do.

    And because the mass-transit system in Phoenix seems like a for-profit arm of the local penal system, I’d be all for the CarPod concept if for no other reason than the security. However, small mobile room, with one seat, lockable door, and wired for power? Gives me the impression it’s just an bathroom on wheels.

    I can see the illustration of it now…

    Cheers.

    JD

  4. Brian said,

    June 14, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Hi Laurie and JD,

    Bathroom on wheels, and vibrating seats. Now that would make a great, albeit messy combination. I think the CarPod would have to be something like the Scion xB, both in terms of shame shape (typo or Freudian slip?) and customizability. One man’s rollin’ humidor is Laurie’s pleasure chamber is Joe Drinker’s crapper-commuter. Hey, I’m a man of the people, I want everybody to be happy! :)

    I just like the idea of not having to pay any attention to Atlanta traffic any more!

    Drink Feral!
    Brian

  5. Brian said,

    June 14, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Dana, my blog just doesn’t like you!

    Don’t take it personally, it doesn’t like me either. It sent both of our comments to the spam can. :mad: In this case, that was a good thing. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have seen your comment languishing there with comments linking to herbal male enhancement pills!

    That’s very cool! Too cool. Do you think I can sue them or something for stealing my idea? I just gotta figure out a way to back date this post to sometime last year… and then get Scott Adams to do the same with his… It just might work… :twisted:

  6. babychaos said,

    June 14, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    I think this is a little like what they call Personal Rapid Transit and it’s been around for a while – when we were both students, Mr BC wanted to join the Central Policy Unit to investigate its feasibility so he explained the concept to me… this was about 1986…

    In those days it was too expensive because it would have to work on a rail of some kind. Not any more. These days, it even features in the current animated adverts for Lloyds Bank here in the UK.

    It’s still a great idea though.

    Cheers

    BC

    I like the idea of a built in humidor… I think I’d want a wine cellar in mine, too.

    Cheers

    BC

  7. Brian said,

    June 14, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Hi BC,

    Yeah, it looks like I’m behind the times. It’s a good thing I think ahead, otherwise there’d be no hope for me! :)

    I think we’re just hitting the point were these ultra-light, ultra efficient vehicles are both doable and affordable. I’m really interested in trying out the one Dana linked to above. Is that anything like the ones you’re talking about?

    Humidor, wine cellar, and at least 4 cup holders. And a mini-fridge for keeping your beer cold. Hey, the cars will drive themselves, why not knock back a brew or two on the way back from the office. Or to the office. Or both! :)

    Cheers!
    Brian

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