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Transology: SMART Mobility for the Study of Movement in Cities

Most people, these days, live in automobile cities. Cars are essential for getting around; they
mediate the experience of the city; they occupy huge amounts of real estate; they make a lot of
noise and they clutter up the streets. Yet architects and urban designers mostly take them as
given, and are content to design streets and public spaces around whatever the world’s
few remaining automobile manufacturers happen to provide. Here we challenge and reverse
this well-worn assumption. We design the car to suit a new vision of the city, not the city to suit
the arbitrary specifications of the car.
The technologies that make this possible are those of miniaturized electronics, digital
communications, inexpensive distributed computation, and advanced control software. They
enable us to get rid of most of the junk that currently encumbers automobiles – engines,
power trains, dashboards, and steering wheels. They allow us to define a fundamentally new,
radically restructured architecture for the automobile.
One illustration of this vital reorganization is our reinvention of the wheel. We place a small but
powerful electric motor, suspension, steering, and brake system in each wheel. Each wheel
operates autonomously and intelligently and the motion of the wheels is controlled and
coordinated by sophisticated software.  Concentrating mechanical functions in the wheel
provides extraordinary freedom to rethink car body materials.
Our design iterations invoke these new technological and material arrangements for adapting
cars to cities. We are tired of cities that force people to move around in rigid, clanking,
cumbersome, often dangerous metal capsules – cars, trains, elevators, escalators, and all
the rest. We propose cities that are softer, gentler, and more sensual. We propose cities in
which crude power, noise, and pollution give way to graceful finesse.

trans-ol-o-gy:
Function: noun Inflected Form(s): plural -gies Etymology: Latin transportare, from trans- + -
logie -logy
1 : a field of design concerned with the interrelationship of mobility and the environment.
2 : the totality or pattern of relations between vehicles and their fundamental settings.
3 : the art of transfer or conveyance from one place to another by taking into account the body
and surroundings.

TRANSOLOGY TEAM:
Mitchell Joachim
Axel Kilian
William J. Mitchell

CONTRIBUTORS TO WORK SHOWN:
Robyn Allen, Luis Rafael Berrios-Negron, Louis Basel, Lorene Gates-Spears , Patrik Kunzler,
Yanni Loukissas, Timocin Pervane, Raul-David Poblano, Peter Schmitt, Franco Variani, Yu
Ping Hsieh.

SMART CITIES GROUP WORKSHOP:
Wayne Cherry, James Glymph, James Gips, Betty Lou McClanahan, Ryan Chin, William Lark,
Phil Liang, Daniel Greenwood, Anmol Madan, Marcel Botha, Victor Gane, David Gerber,
Susanne Seitinger, Tiffany Yang.

Further reference:
Mitchell Joachim, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D. Thesis, Dept. of Architecture,
Design and Computation, '
Ecotransology: Integrated Design for Urban Mobility,' 2006.
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