No matter what sci-fi future you prescribe to, there's one thing that every futurescape seems to agree on: roadways are going to change drastically. Whether that means commuting by super-fast maglev trains or being driven around in self-navigating pods, nobody can say. The second-place winner of the 2014 Michelin Challenge aims to merge these two divergent modes of transportation into a single, seamless driving experience. One that offers you the ultimate automotive choice: to drive or not to drive.
Drafted up by Chuang Dong, Zhen Qiu and Haowen Deng, the AKA24 system is more than just a car or a train. Each single-seater vehicle is both at once. Drivers can tool around on traditional roadways if they like, but if they'd rather relax they need only drive up to a maglev railway line and let go. Once close enough to the railway, their car will be snagged magnetically and flipped up on its side. The driver needn't worry, however, since the AKA24's driver pod also swings around to keep its occupant vertical at all times.
Wheels inspired by the memory fabric of Batman's cape from Batman Begins would contract and fold into their axles while in train mode, popping back out as you re-enter the roadway. It's a fantastic idea, and one which would preserve the open feeling of the road, while also bringing commuter transport into the next century. That being said, the concept relies on some very small in-wheel motors and something called "glass battery material" for power, so we're not exactly holding our breath for the AKA24's imminent construction.
Still, a vehicle that both gives you the freedom of the open road and the convenience of a high-speed rail system sounds like the best of both worlds to us.