The whole thing centers around 3-piece telescoping structural beam or tube. I do not have a name for it yet so I will use beam for now. It telescopes in as needed in case of an accident in such a way that the pods attached to upper part of the middle beam, do not interfere with the pods attached to the lower part of the forward and rearward beams. This is only one the many safety elements. It should also contain a common electrical power bus. There might be different size beams to meet market requirements for different size vehicles. As much standardization as possible in connections would make pods interchangeable among different beam classifications.
The pods make up the other elements and provide whatever functionality is required by the type of vehicle or its current use by the user. There are passenger pods, cargo pods, power pods of all kinds, etc. I do not know what kinds of pods tinkerers or brilliant engineers will come up with. They can be installed and de-installed with ease. Why carry around an air-conditioning pod all year round when it is only needed in summer?
Out of the Box Thinking with the Box Fish
The pods can be shaped any way engineers want. I want pods shaped like a box fish for the maximum internal cubic feet and a .04 Cd. It can be as large as needed as since the drag coefficient is so small as to be negligible. A passenger pod would have normal seating and restraints a safety cage but the shell/faring would be mostly made of the same material as used in a blowup mattress or inflatable raft. The door flaps would be edged with rare-earth magnetic strips to give a secure seal. Once inside a small amount of air pressure is continually pumped into the cabin to give the pod its full/rigid shape while allowing for variable ventilation perhaps with "active streamlining" where air is pumped out of the skin (like an air-hockey table or a fan pushing air into a fabric envelope) to make it super slippery. But that is just me. Any one can design a more robust heavier pod if they like. Imagination is given a lot of freedom to operate with this open design.
It will be a 3+ wheeled vehicle. As many wheel pods could be added as desired or mandated. They could be configured in such a way as to lift the vehicle up when coming to a stop or slowing down and then use that energy to regain that momentum like a skater scissoring his legs or inch-worm like. Forward wheel pods on longer extension might pole vault the vehicle over an accident that the vehicle would otherwise plow into. This can be a real-time configuration depending on the circumstances. Track pods could be used for snow.
The Brains of this Outfit
The car is run by an iPhone or iPod Touch using its WiFi and Bluetooth capablities for communication with the pods. The iPhone's 3G has a built in GPS and a 3-D accelerometer as well as powerful programmability and communications functions. Securing the vehicle would be as simple as removing the iPhone from its steering wheel cradle. It can be used for remote startup on those cold or hot days for cabin comfort. The only problem here is the ongoing high cost of this proprietary product.
Beams might be made to connect into an articulated train so only one driver is needed for many vehicles. This connection could be made hard or virtual using Bluetooth/WiFi communications.
Man Made Evolution
All aspects of this vehicle are made for rapid and ongoing development. When better battery technology comes along just add a new pod and upgrade your vehicle instead of throwing it away. Differing grades of luxury and utility can be accommodated as well as unique pods for commuter, bulk transport, building trades, and recreational uses. Pods need never be thrown away. They can be rented, sold, and reused.
What is Needed
Artist renderings, scale models, computerized boxfish shape, capital to make it happen.