- Series: MIT Press
- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: The MIT Press (January 29, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0262013827
- ISBN-13: 978-0262013826
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century (MIT Press) 0th Edition
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The content is intelligent, well laid out, entertaining, understandable, and approachable...Often, works about the future of the automobile industry are just tools to express idealistic beliefs or anti-industry sentiments. This book is refreshing because the authors understand the whole package in terms of current problems, and their solutions, and succinctly present a glimpse of a future (and a present) that people can feel good about.(Choice)
In this book, William Mitchell, perhaps the greatest urban theorist and designer of the Information Age, provides a concrete alternative to the unsustainable model of urban transportation based on the traditional automobile, and paves the way for the transformation of the automobile industry as a whole. In this time of crisis Reinventing the Automobile is mandatory reading, besides researchers and students, for planners, industrialists, and governments searching for a way out for the car of the industrial era.(Manuel Castells, Professor Emeritus of City Planning, University of California, Berkeley)
Our American auto industry is at a perilous crossroads - it can adhere to the 'old ways' and perish or it can leapfrog the competition, reinvent itself, and lead the automotive world into the 21st century. Many of the ideas set forth in this book just might serve as a blueprint for this much-needed and important change of direction. Who better to lead the way than our geek brethren from MIT?(Tom & Ray Magliozzi, aka "Click and Clack," Hosts of Car Talk)
We are at the threshold of a new era of urban transport. Reinventing the Automobile offers a breathtaking vista of the opportunities ahead. Mitchell, Borroni-Bird, and Burns combine their great engineering expertise, design skills, and practical experience to create a dazzling vision of a new urban transport system to support healthy, productive, safe, and environmentally sustainable cities in the 21st century. The book is consistently exciting, a wonderful chance to peer over the shoulders of masters as they sort through the complex terrain of energy systems, urban lifestyles, digital connectivity, and cutting-edge automotive engineering. This book will fascinate and inspire not only specialists in transport and engineering, but everybody interested in the new age of sustainable development.(Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Special Advisor to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon)
Finally, a book that addresses the problems of carbon emissions, sustainability, transportation, city planning, and traffic, by authors who understand what the automobile industry does not -- that these issues are all interconnected and part of the same picture. This book has a great deal to offer to anyone who is interested in the green movement in architecture, in city planning, in traffic problems, in pollution, and in the challenge of making our planet more humane.(Frank Gehry)
Mitchell, Borroni-Bird, and Burns have created a blueprint for sustainable urban mobility. Reinventing the Automobile will fundamentally change the way we approach transportation design. Every car company should take note: evolve or face increasing irrelevance.(David Kelley, Founder and Chairman, IDEO, and Professor, Stanford University)
It isn't technological barriers so much as closed minds that are holding back the necessary evolution of the automobile; using calm and devastatingly inarguable logic, this is a virtual step-by-step manual that deploys an original idea on every page to show exactly how it can and should be achieved. If you care about cars, read this book: it opens your mind and lets the future in.(Bruce McCall, artist and writer The New Yorker)
Visionary in its totality, it is also soberly realistic.(Peter D. Norton Metascience)
Presents a fascinating and challenging model of technological possibilities.(Martin Wachs Issues in Science and Technology)
About the Author
William J. Mitchell was the Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr., Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences and directed the Smart Cities research group at MIT's Media Lab. Christopher Borroni-Bird is GM's Director of Advanced Technology Vehicle Concepts. Lawrence D. Burns advises companies, governments, and universities on transportation, energy, and communications systems and technology. He was Vice President of Research and Development at General Motors from 1998 to 2009.
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The problem with this "small is beautiful" vision is that it will be hard to sell it to most Americans, who are used to getting more, not less. But what if these little cars actually got you to your destination sooner, because they could go on tracks that bypassed intersections and congestion, and because they could augment their battery with power supplied by the road? In that case, even a Texan might want one. The Third Generation Roadway by Roger Davidheiser describes such a system, based on the same small cars described in "Reinventing the Automobile" but with the addition of an interface for a dedicated track, or "Roadway." I recommend that these two books be read together.
Their styles are different. "Reinventing the Automobile" reads like a PowerPoint presentation by a design professor, and "The Third Generation Roadway" reads like a master's thesis by an engineer. Neither asks nor answers the difficult and divisive question, "Do these improvements in auto technology negate the need for more investment in trains and buses in American-style cities?" But both are important and stimulating attempts to imagine how we will get around in the cities of the fairly near future.
What is less compelling in the approach as presented are issues raised but left unanswered, but critical to the sustainability of the urban vehicle concepts presented. What will be the licensing regime for drivers of these vehicles? Will we use the same roadways, or devote more land area to an additional transit mode? What is the top and average speed at which these vehicles will travel, an estimate studiously avoided by the authors? Will that speed be controlled by regulation (and enforced with electronic governors)? Will next year's model be allowed to be 5% faster, heavier and more opulent, and will that be seen as desirable? What will that do to the vehicle's interaction with people powering themselves? On what basis will manufacturers compete? Will we be willing to impose design regulations to maintain the benefits of the original designs? Are a billion batteries really the best way to provide electrical load balancing, given their limited life and the exotic materials (presently) required to replace them?
Also largely unacknowledged by the authors are the parallel developments in urban transit systems that compete with their vision of a more efficient, environmentally friendly urban personal vehicle. Public transit systems (public in access, not necessarily ownership) are seeking to achieve the same goals as the model presented here; increased access points and modes; reduced environmental impact; better urban and regional land use; compatibility with human powered transit modes. The questions remaining here are, which vision is more equitable? Which is more economically implementable? Which promises the most desirable future for high density urban dwellers, who make up the increasing majority of the world's people? If both models, personal and public transit, are converging on the same solutions, including automated separation, caravaning, and shared ownership (Mobility on Demand in the authors' parlance) does it really matter which one we choose and if not, what is the best way to get there?
I enjoyed the book, but I'm not sure I bought the product.
A must read for anyone interested in how we can create a much more human/ecological view on mobility ... makes you want to get started yourself.
Great comprehensive and easily digestible work from the authors!