ZMP RoboCar MEV-C automated vehicleEnlarge Photo
Some other cars are none of these things, but their importance isn't in their looks, speed or usability but the technological advancements they'll offer to the car industry as a whole.
The RoboCar MEV-C is one of these cars. Built by Japanese robotics company ZMP it's the antithesis of everything gearheads love about cars. Under that sub-golf cart shiny plastic exterior, cyclops-like single headlight and highly suspect $35,000 price tag lurks some serious autonomous vehicle technology.
We've looked at ZMP's RoboCar before. The company's last video showed a young lady steering the vehicle around some parkland roads, allowing the RoboCar to form a virtual map of its environment that it then used to drive the same route itself, entirely autonomously.
Like that example, the MEV-C is a single-person electric micro car, and can also be driven yourself. It's actually based on COMS, a vehicle that Toyota started developing back in 2000, but ZMP has equipped the car with a stereo camera, 9-axis wireless motion sensor, GPS connection, temperature and humidity sensors, a laser range sensor, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G.
How they fit all that into the MEV-C is beyond us but the whole lot is also "open platform" using a "Control Area Network" (CAN) protocol, allowing buyers to tweak the hardware. All the motion technology allows the MEV-C to drive itself by sensing its environment.
We can't see cities of the future filling up with vehicles like the RoboCar (at least, we certainly hope they don't), but the technology it showcases really could be with us sooner than we think.