If any company had to build something as outlandish as a pod system with a fixed electric powertrain platform and an interchangeable upper pod based on use, it would probably be Tesla (or maybe we could count this Mercedes Benz concept too). Designed as a part of his thesis project, Fábio Martins’ conceptual Tesla Pod system is pretty intriguing, and especially makes sense, given that Musk is launching the Boring Tunnel project that will only work with a handful of cars that are compatible with the underground travel system. The idea for the Pod is simple. The electric powertrain base is common to all modes of transport, while the upper part alternates between three different pods that serve three different purposes… one for public transport, one for private transport, and one for commercial transport. The platforms and pods/modules are produced independently, and a large robotic arm helps in mounting and unmounting the modules from the platform base. Scroll below to read more about the platform design and the pods/modules themselves.
Designer: Fábio Martins
The Platform forms the base to all the different pods. It comes with an electric drivetrain, headlights and taillights, and everything required to allow the pods to operate autonomously. The Platform is equipped with LIDAR, RADAR, Ultrasonic and Optical Sensors in order to achieve level 5 autonomous driving, to which are attached different modules, developed to fulfill different tasks related to the transport of people and goods through urban environments. The platform is symmetric, this means the symmetry of components that considerably reduces the cost of production of each platform, allowing the integration of autonomous systems in the vehicle while maintaining a low price to the consumer. This also allows for the platform to have 4 wheel steering and be able to move forward or backward.
The Public Module here presented has room for 12 people, 6 standing and 6 seated. It has the same sliding pantograph door opening mechanism as the following modules in order to reduce the production cost of complex parts. The pod is composed of a Carbon Fiber Composite body, with polycarbonate door panels covered with microperforated vinyl to create an integrated and modern look along with the platform, while providing exterior visibility for the occupants. The module also has front, back and side screen to inform pedestrians and users about its imminent actions and destination.
The commercial pod transports cargo the way the public pod transports humans. Built with 141.2 cubic feet of space, the commercial pod can store a large amount of cargo and the autonomous vehicle can transport said cargo from point A to point B. The lack of the driver gives the interior of the commercial pod more space to store cargo, and a special Tesla forklift helps load and unload the pods.
The Private Module below has 4 rotating seats that allow for various interior setups, ranging from the traditional 2×2 seating to seats that face each other like a recreational room. The module is composed of a Carbon Fiber Composite body, with electrochromic windows that lighten and darken to provide passengers with the option of a view or privacy. It also has Sliding Pantograph doors, allowing for minimum amplitude of motion, optimal for close urban spaces.
Designed to be used in a car-hailing setup, the Private Pod works to transport humans, but in a much more private setup. The module can be used by office-goers as a traveling conference room, or even by individuals and families. The rotating chairs allow you to sit either conventionally or facing each other, and entertainment systems make for a much more enjoyable ride.