Gondola Unit

Gondola is a basic unit of transportation – it is a completely driverless transportation vehicle meant to operate on existing road infrastructure. Gondola unit is electrically powered and its movement is controlled by an external information system that is using a combination of live data gathered by sensors mounted on the unit and data collected by other Gondola units (the Gondola Mesh).

Gondola looks like a car that has been stripped from every bit of functionality that is not required for safe transportation in the Gondola system. It still has a car-like aerodynamic body with a couple of seats (2-6 depending on configuration) inside. and a set of wheels (4-8 depending on configuration).

What is not there are all the elements present in the current cars that are just meant to support a human driver (headlights, taillights, wipers, steering controls, navigation aids, steering system) or heavy equipment designed to protect the driver and passengers in case a human driver makes a mistake (large bumpers, internal and external reinforcements).

Gondola Unit is modular by design. The whole vehicle is composed of two major elements.

The upper part is called the Pod – it is a capsule that provides a space for the passengers. It may come in multiple shapes and variants and be able to carry a different number of people. The capsule’s interior and exterior can be arranged in various ways – depending on the intended use cases but also taking into consideration the material status and the aesthetic needs of the person owning the capsule. So it may look like an XVIII-chariot covered in 24k gold and diamonds or a minimalistic silver bullet. Every Pod design has to however follow the safety standards and structural specifications defined commonly for the whole system.

Each Pod needs to be compatible with the lower module defined as the Frame. The Frame is what makes the transportation possible – it is meant to carry the Pod from point A to B as required by any system user. The frame itself is a host for two additional types of sub-modules – the Battery and The Engine(s).

The Frame provides the basic structural “skeleton” for the whole unit and integrates all the systems responsible for controlling the unit movement and communication with Gondola Mesh network. That includes a set of image sensors and lidars and a computer that drives the vehicle by combining the data coming from the network with the observations made by context-awareness systems.

The Battery is a source of energy for the unit that optimizes the weight vs density (today based most probably on li-ion solutions).

The Engine is actually a complex submodule integrating the electric engine, suspension and wheel in one package. Each Gondola Unit sits on a set of Engines (4-8 depending on configuration) which are omnidirectional – each can turn individually in any direction.

Both Battery and Engine can be detached from the Frame and replaced by a different set in less than 5 minutes.

All the sub-elements of the Frame need to follow the same general specification (size, shape, max weight, electrical interface, data interface & etc) defined for the whole system.

This very modular structure defines the core of the Gondola Vision and serves multiple goals by enabling a number of benefits – the most obvious ones can be summarized in six points:

1) It simplifies the system maintenance and reduces the time spent on repairs – if any module is malfunctioning it can be replaced in a matter of minutes and the rest of the unit remains fully operational.

2) It enables innovation and rapid development on a singular module level – it is possible to upgrade gradually by enabling better batteries, sensors and engines without the need to replace the other elements of the framework.

3) It enables controlled recycling and waste management at scale – every module can be disassembled and its parts re-used in a controlled and safe manner.

4) It provides additional storage capacity for green energy (a concept called car-2-grid today) and enables green energy management at scale – since every Battery can be detached and charged individually and then provisioned to the frame whenever the need is identified.

5) It enables an unlimited range for electricity-powered transportation – once the Frame is close to depleting its battery it can be replaced by another fully-charged one. The situation will get anticipated by Gondola Mesh network and the operation will take just a couple of minutes.

6) It enables more companies from non-automotive industries to enter the mass transportation market and compete to provide the most optimal solutions on a singular module level.