MOTIV quadricycle AV pod
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Small and light, the MOTIV AV pod is classified as a quadricycle. (GMD) 

Quadricycle AV pod pops open in London

A gullwing AV prototype from Gordon Murray Design, Delta Motorsport and itMoves claims to “break the mold for future mobility development.”

Mobility “pods” regularly pop up in the automated-driving universe and the latest is a quadricycle prototype called MOTIV, claimed by its creators to “break the mold for future mobility development.” The MOTIV emerged at February’s MOVE 2020 conference in London as collaborative creation of Gordon Murray Design (GMD), automotive electric-technology specialist Delta Motorsport and mobility consultancy itMoves. 

The pod is a small-footprint vehicle platform designed to operate under SAE Level 5 autonomy “when paired with driverless technologies from an autonomous partner.” Described by its creators as “unique” – always an adjective to be used with care in the auto industry – it also was designed to meet demanding crash-safety requirements.

Mike Brown, GMD’s advanced products director, told SAE’s Autonomous Vehicle Engineering that the MOTIV development team had successfully addressed several key factors: “It had to be electric, clean from both urban and city perspectives, exceptionally compact and light, able to carry multiple occupants or up to 1,100 liters of goods and help traffic flow.” Fulfilling European M1 crash regulation was also very high on the list. With all this and more, the team targeted the quadricycle category of weight (sub-450 kg [992 lb.] excluding batteries) and size homologation. MOTIV has about the same footprint as a Renault Twizy."

Gullwing door
The pod, which has a single gullwing door, uses GMD’s flexible architecture (iStream Superlight) technology already applied to the company’s T25 and T27 city cars, with lightweight panels and body structure. Various autonomous systems can be installed in MOTIV. Styled by itMOVES, the prototype shown in London is fitted with a Delta Motorsport battery and drive-by-wire dedicated vehicle control architecture that operates the steering, propulsion and braking systems. 

There’s a 100-km (62-mile) maximum range from its 13.8-kWh usable (17.3-kWh total) battery and 20-kW motor driving a single-speed transmission. Performance figures supplied by GMD include a top speed of 40 mph (65 km/h) and 0-38.5 mph (62 km/h) in 7.5 sec. Front suspension includes MacPherson struts, with an “i-link” setup at the rear. Wheel size is 13-in. and regenerative ABS braking is fitted. Air conditioning is standard.

The MOTIV was conceived 18 months ago as part of the U.K. government’s Innovate program. The collaborating companies now seeking development partners. The prototype unveiled at the London event was shown in single-occupant configuration, but two occupants is an option – although probably not three, despite Prof. Gordon Murray’s enthusiasm for the number a la his 1990s McLaren F1 supercar design. 

The MOTIV also has capability for access for the disabled. “Last-mile” deliveries could be a particular MOTIV forte. Keeping down weight and compacting size (length: 2537 mm, width 1310 mm and height 1628 mm) to quadricycle levels contributes to range and to subsequent use of a smaller battery. This helps to reduce the total cost of materials required in manufacture. 

Brown is confident that overall manufacturing costings would be kept low, delivering “very interesting” figures in competition with likely rivals, while still providing enhanced refinement. Added Gordon Murray: “The best way to make any vehicle commercially viable and cost-effective, while delivering first-class efficiency, is to make it as light as it can be while retaining the highest levels of safety.” 

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