2009 Winner | The Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Sustainable Personal Mobility and Mobility-on-Demand Systems

“Mobility-on-Demand systems utilize fleets of shared-use lightweight electric vehicles placed at automatic charging racks throughout a city. The CityCar and RoboScooter, both folding vehicles, along with the Green-Wheel Bicycle, minimize parking space and can be picked-up and dropped-off at any rack. Mobility-on-Demand systems maximize mobility and dramatically reduce congestion and pollution through energy and land-use efficiency.” – excerpt from the team’s proposal

A Statement From the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Jury…
Sustainable Personal Mobility and Mobility-on-Demand Systems (SPM/MoD), submitted by an interdisciplinary student team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab (MIT) has been selected as the winner of the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. In the opinion of this jury, the project best represents the comprehensive, anticipatory approach to design pioneered by R. Buckminster Fuller – it is a, bold, visionary idea and beautifully reflects the spirit of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

Given the nature of the crises we are facing, from climate change to economic collapse, what is important is to demonstrate that this approach to design and problem solving – while always thinking big – has the potential to bring about changes in the near-term. This project is a perfect example of the kind of radical, transformative change that is possible when we reconceive the old ways of doing things and take a systems-based approach to design.

SPM/MoD isn’t just about the design of these lightweight, highly efficient, electric vehicles, it is about inserting that technological innovation into the social and cultural environment and designing an intuitive system within which they function. The technological innovation embodied in these vehicles is just one piece of a larger system design which addresses issues from pollution, to congestion, to urban space, to economics, to energy use, to the very idea of personal transportation and what that means in a world with nearly seven billion inhabitants. It truly is – in the Bucky tradition – a transformative solution rather than an isolated piece of technology.


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