As hydrogen-powered cars and hybrids compete for our attention, let's not forget the practicality of the compressed-air alternative.
When we think of automotive innovations, the temptation is to think of them as substitutes for the personal car. But there are other ways to approach moving people from place to place. And there are places for vehicles that take some of the burden off of cars powered by internal combustion engines.
The new AIRPod, for example, can get people around airports and train stations. They can also serve as municipal vehicles, inner-city cabs, and shuttles from park-and-ride terminals. Best of all, they generate no pollution and require none of the difficult-to-dispose materials used in batteries.
Reports say these mini-cars seat two adults comfortably or a maximum of three adults and one child. The driver sits alone up front and steers with a joy stick. Passengers sit in back, facing the rear. The AIRPod's 180-cc, aluminum, compressed-air engine and its light-materials construction, keep its weight down to about about 220 kg (487 lbs.). And because it's so light, its 5.5 horsepower engine can move it easily enough and give it a respectable range.
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