Citroen mobility concept lets other companies design your cabin

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Citroën has unveiled a new urban mobility concept that sees lines of autonomous, electric and interchangeable pods winding through cities of the future. The Citroën Autonomous Mobility Vision is primarily a flat, wheeled portion called the Skate that moves the vehicle. On top, any number of manufacturers can install capsules of their own design.

The Skate has no driver, operating as a connected vehicle designed to travel in dedicated lanes around the city. According to Citroën, these lanes would have induction charging, allowing the Skates to operate almost 24/7, though they can return to a charging base if necessary. Each Skate rides on spherical wheels developed in conjunction with Goodyear. The omnidirectional tires, called Eagle 360s, allow the Skate to move in any direction and though very narrow spaces. Top speed is limited to about 16 mph, and the Skate portion measures 102 inches long, 63 inches wide, and 20 inches high, a footprint slightly smaller than a Smart Fourtwo's.

Citroën calls it an open-source approach, allowing companies to create pods that may have never seen the inside of a Citroën design studio. At the reveal, the automaker presented pods developed by hotel company Accor and outdoor advertising firm JCDecaux. Calling themselves the Urban Collëctif, the companies created three distinct flavors of cabin to fit atop the Skate.

Accor, which operates approximately 5,200 hotels, created two pods. The first, called Sofitel En Voyage, employs a luxury travel theme and seats two to three passengers while their luggage is stored in a dedicated compartment. The cabin features an LED strip to display pertinent travel, weather, news and messages, while occupants can enjoy customizable mood lighting, a sound system, or drinks and snacks from an onboard bar. A tablet can communicate with a Sofitel hotel-branded concierge to make restaurant or theater reservations.

Accor's second pod is called Pullman Power Fitness, which allows passengers to exercise as they move about town. The capsule is equipped with a rowing machine on one side and a stationary bike on the other. A digital coach can pop up on a holographic screen to either motivate the occupant or provide route information. Cleverly, the energy generated by the exercise equipment can be used to recharge the Skate.

The third and final pod revealed is made by JCDecaux, who operates a lot of street furniture and shared bicycles in major cities. The so-called City Provider is described as easy to board for those with luggage or wheelchairs. resembles an old sedan chair and can seat up to five passengers and boasts both enclosed and open seating areas. USB ports and interactive screens let passengers use their devices or plan routes with highlighted tourist and event information.

The pods can automatically install on Skate in 10 seconds and are suspended on the latter's movable hydraulic cushions. With the open-source architecture, Citroën expects other companies to develop pods ideal for medical, food delivery and security needs.

Citroën says that the World Bank predicts two thirds of the human population will live in cities by 2050. In addition, it credits COVID-19 for increasing a desire for more private, socially distant transportation in urban areas. This is certainly one potential solution.

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