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Hyundai’s “E4U” puts a new spin on the personal mobility vehicle

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April 2, 2013

The egg-shaped 'E4U' personal mobility vehicle concept (Photo: Nikkei Tech-On)

The egg-shaped 'E4U' personal mobility vehicle concept (Photo: Nikkei Tech-On)

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Despite the Segway becoming a household name, personal mobility vehicles have so far failed to make it to the world’s sidewalks in any great numbers. Still, some intriguing concepts over the years from the likes of Toyota, Honda and GM suggest that the wheels of the personal mobility revolution are still turning – if slowly. Hyundai is now getting into the act with its “E4U” personal mobility vehicle concept that was spied at the Seoul Motor Show last week by Nikkei Tech-On.

Hyundai’s egg-shaped vehicle sets itself apart by sitting atop a horizontally-spinning semisphere that is used for propulsion instead of wheels. The driver stands on a small platform and directs the vehicle by tilting it so that different sides of the semisphere contact the ground. Tech-On says this is similar to the way a helicopter works, with two rear wheels providing stability and friction to act like a helicopter’s tail rotor.

Hyundai's 'E4U' personal mobility vehicle concept unveiled in Seoul (Photo: Nikkei Tech-On...

Other details are scant, but another “interesting” feature is the that the top of the vehicle can be removed and worn by the driver as an eye-catching helmet. This is dominated by a large clear visor that seems more fitting for higher speeds than the walking pace the concept is currently capable of.

According to Tech-On, Hyundai’s Advanced Design Department only began development of the E4U in October 2012, so we’ll be interested to see where this concept goes.

Source: Nikkei Tech-On

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
19 Comments

Yeah...that looks safe....NOT.

VoiceofReason
2nd April, 2013 @ 10:37 pm PDT

This borrows pretty heavily on similar concepts that have come from japan over the last 10 years or so. The Suzuki pixy is one, the Toyota PM (http://i.imgur.com/3jxNeCE.jpg) is another one I found quickly but I can remember several others. I don't know who made this one (http://i.imgur.com/Td9v6B3.jpg) but there always seems to be a few at the Tokyo auto show each year.

I think a cooler concept is something like public transportation meets automated driving. The cars on tracks at some theme parts are an OK example: http://i.imgur.com/zWJPm6a.jpg

Instead of having the train/subway etc. stop at every stop on the way to where you are going, have a couple lanes so only the cars that need to stop exit. Cars can travel under provided power/automation while on the public track and drive under their own power after they are off the track.

The cars can be "routed" in a sense to their destination by computing technology that can re-route around congestion like they are packets on the Internet.

You could rent access to the vehicles and when you get to where you are going instead of finding a place to park you send it back to the network. Because automation it allows empty cars/cells to be sent the other way on the track to get more people, sort of like a ski lift.

Less automation technology than something like the Google car would be needed because the cars would follow (and communicate with) a track. You could pile the cars closer because if one vehicle must stop for an object in the path the cars behind it could be slowed/stopped at the same time rather than waiting for drivers to observe the cars in front had stopped after they look up from their phones etc.

This would be much cooler than the subway or mostly similar public transportation methods. Even if the containers/cars/cells etc. were not permitted to exit the track and drive on roads the smaller size would at least allow for closer smaller stations so you have less walking after you get where you are going or maybe prevent having to drive to the first station.

Daishi
3rd April, 2013 @ 12:34 am PDT

If there was ever a case of the kids drawings ending up in a fathers briefcase leading to a odd product, this is it.

Slowburn
3rd April, 2013 @ 03:42 am PDT

ditto Slowburn, so well put. When something is being designed, it would be nice if somehow the design packs an advantage over existing products for a majority of users, or met a need for which 10 better ways are not already available.

Dave B13
3rd April, 2013 @ 10:38 am PDT

Sidewalk mobility products aren't needed, we have them, they're called feet. We don't need sidewalks being taken over by motorized vehicles. We need road worthy vehicles to get us where we are going that don't use a lot of energy. These won't ever be more than a fad unless we go the route of the fat lazy slobs in Pixar's Wall-E.

Max Kennedy
3rd April, 2013 @ 10:41 am PDT

This idea is far too ridiculous to actually make in anyone's market. I would be afraid to drive it because some other driver would want to hit it out simple sheer curiosity. Also any speed above an actual walking pace would make that ludicrous windshield behave like an airfoil. Wearing this and standing at all would be very unsafe, hard to control, and if, possible. look even more ridiculous than sitting in this accident invitation. The only minor merit is that the shell looks modestly durable enough to contain the spatter and lessen the clean up work for the emergency crews. Unless, that is, unless this bad idea cracks open on impact like Humpty Dumpty.

StWils
3rd April, 2013 @ 11:18 am PDT

One of the worst ideas I've seen. Pointless. Just walk and retain some dignity.

Clay Jones
3rd April, 2013 @ 11:53 am PDT

"There's no need to fear! Windshield man is here!!" crowd "Yea!"...

Jeff Vandervort
3rd April, 2013 @ 12:07 pm PDT

Hyundai should be ashamed to release something this ridiculous this even as a concept.

yrag
3rd April, 2013 @ 04:05 pm PDT

i would feel safer on a skateboard

Leonard Foster Jr
3rd April, 2013 @ 04:06 pm PDT

Wow, and I thought segway drivers looked stupid.

Niobee Zagnut
3rd April, 2013 @ 05:06 pm PDT

"Despite the Segway becoming a household name, personal mobility vehicles have so far failed to make it to the world’s sidewalks in any great numbers."

The reason is not the technology, but rather the retrospective thinking and petty barriers put up by local governments. What's the point in investing in a Segway or an E4U if you can't legally take it beyond your driveway. Loosen up the petty regulation and these things will explode onto the scene faster than bird flu in China.

Wally3178
3rd April, 2013 @ 05:29 pm PDT

That just looks ridiculous.. Just walk for crying out loud.

Doug Bull
3rd April, 2013 @ 07:05 pm PDT

Hey look! It's a Segway with a cabin! One percentage point less stable and dangerous than a Reliant Robin 3-wheeler (see Top Gear's Stig and Clarkson drive) for the most thrills you can get going from A to B. If this is the best their design team can think of, sack the lot!

The Skud
3rd April, 2013 @ 08:50 pm PDT

Googling comes up with 5 Segway Tour URL's just for Miami. Probably pretty usefull for SOME letter carrier & police operations. Deliveries, lunches, documents, are freqeuntly done with bicycles, in downtown Miami. I've never seen a Segway used for delivery or commuting. Only time I've seen a personal one in use myself was a one legged man carrying a flag in a Mango Strut (satire parade) in Coconut Grove. I spent 5 minutes on a Segway in a roped off area of a smooth concrete floor, it was quite pleasant.

Dave B13
4th April, 2013 @ 10:32 am PDT

Wow. What a waste of money.

Brian Mcc
4th April, 2013 @ 02:15 pm PDT

not enough room in this eggmobile for a person plus their self respect. I guess you would have to leave your self respect at home...

Gearhead
4th April, 2013 @ 02:56 pm PDT

Max Kennedy, I got a chuckle from the Wall-E reference. Very cute movie, btw. No, I don't see anything this large replacing cars anytime soon, but I can see the practicality of much smaller unicycle type personal transportation, capable of being picked up and toted onto buses or commuter trains. As for me, I do like walking in pleasant weather, but in the middle of August is another matter...temps hit 107 F here sometimes in summer.

Sjambok
7th April, 2013 @ 04:20 pm PDT

Sjambok:

" I can see the practicality of much smaller unicycle type personal transportation, capable of being picked up and toted onto buses or commuter trains."

It's been done, better than unicycle format, takes some practice. I don't & won't personaly know but I suspect a person proficient with a skateboard & one of these will probably use the skateboard more:

http://solowheel.com/

http://www.gizmag.com/solowheel-gyro-stabilized-electric-unicycle/17900/

And google solowheel for some untrained newscasters learing to use them.

BTW - unicyclist would refer to non-motorized version of the solowheel as an impossible wheel (That's just the name, they are not impossible) or B.C. wheel , after comic strip.

Dave B13
12th April, 2013 @ 01:18 pm PDT
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