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Parallel parking woes could be a thing of the past if a revolutionary electric car project led by an Otago Polytechnic staff member catches on.
School of Architecture, Building and Engineering programme manager and research co-ordinator Dr Tom Qi is the brains behind an electric car prototype.
The car, which is a collaboration between the polytechnic, the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology and Shenzhen Polytechnic, has four separate electrically powered wheels, which can steer independently.
Dr Qi said this meant the car could drive sideways, making parallel parking much easier.
''You can also take a U-turn without taking any extra space.''
The potentially revolutionary aspect of the prototype was that the four wheels were not mechanically linked.
''The traditional car has been designed using centralised engines and centralised steering that control the activities. This model uses in-wheel motors as well as all-wheel steering,'' he said.
This meant a steering wheel was no longer necessary and the team working on the car was looking at other ways of controlling it, including a control stick. In future, there was a possibility the car could be controlled by the driver's mind, he said.
At the moment, staff and students from the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology and Shenzhen Polytechnic were working on putting the car - which was previously running in China - back together at Otago Polytechnic.
Once that was done - probably by next week - they, along with a team from the polytechnic, would develop the prototype further.
''Visually speaking, the car is not much different from traditional cars. Once we get the engineering model, the School of Design will help us design and reassemble the car and create a unique model.''
'' I would like to see this newly designed car running on campus first and then on public roads. I want this project to be more visible to the world. That is my dream,'' he said.
Dr Qi, who spends time in Taiwan and China, had been working on the project, which was funded by the Chinese Government, for five years.
Otago Polytechnic School of Architecture, Building and Engineering head John Findlay said the polytechnic was lucky to be part of such a ''leading edge'' project.