A team of researchers at MIT’s Media Lab, meanwhile, hopes to use the same approach to reduce congestion in today’s crowded cities. They’re experimenting with small electric motors located in the wheels of the CityCar, a tiny, nimble and practically silent vehicle with wheels that turn 360 degrees, enabling it to slip neatly into tight urban parking spaces. Designed to stack like supermarket carts when not in use, the cars could be parked strategically in front of subway stations and office buildings, where people could grab one as needed for short-term, one-way rentals, says Ryan Chin, one of the MIT researchers.

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