When Honda first unveiled its Micro Commuter Concept EV
a couple of years ago, there were likely many people who doubted that the futuristic little car would ever be seen anywhere other than auto shows. Last week, however, Honda announced that it will begin field-testing an unspecified number of the MCC's successors later this year.
Inventist, the creative mind behind such contraptions as the Solowheel and Hydroglider
, is back with something it calls the Hovertrax. Unfortunately not the Marty McFly-like personal hover vessel the name implies, Hovertrax is more akin to a smaller, lighter Segway-like personal transporter. The small, hands-free device is designed to be both easy to carry and easy to use.
Two seats, limited parking and a gas engine too much? Then worry no longer inner-city traveler, thanks to Innovative Mobility Automobile's single-seat electric Colibri, parking opportunities just doubled.
LEEV Mobility, the Amsterdam-based company responsible for the Mantys electric golf vehicle
, has gone from the fairway to the roadway for its second offering. The company's JAC< is an electric scooter that is designed to solve the first and last mile problem faced by urban commuters. A fully functional prototype has been constructed and LEEV has launched a crowdfunding campaign to get the JAC< on the road.
American-based studio Höweler + Yoon Architecture has developed an intriguing concept for modern urban infrastructure between Boston and Washington called "Boswash." Central to the design of this imagined mega-region is the firm's "Shareway" design – a bundled transport concept that seeks to redress the nightmare of the urban commute by connecting public and individual transport to a single artery along the 450 mile (724 km) route of the existing Interstate 95.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo's Kamata lab
are working on a new wheeled robotic vehicle that can climb stairs. Called the NOBOROT, it uses a proximity sensor to detect when it is next to a step and is able to maintain a level posture while ascending and descending to ensure a smooth ride.
For people who are unable to walk under their own power, exoskeletons offer what is perhaps the next-best thing. Essentially “wearable robots,” the devices not only let their users stand, but they also move their legs for them, allowing them to walk. While groups such as Berkeley Bionics
, Rex Bionics
, and ReWalk
are all working on systems, Nashville’s Vanderbilt University has just announced the development of its own exoskeleton. It is claimed to offer some important advantages over its competitors.
When South African craftsman Richard Van As lost most of the fingers from his right hand in an industrial accident, he decided to try and create a prosthetic finger to regain some of his lost mobility. In order to bring this about, Richard recruited the help of Washington State native Ivan Owen, after being impressed with the latter's mechanical hand prop which he had posted on YouTube. The result could be a boon to amputees everywhere.
When the going gets snowy and slick, people turn to snowshoes and ice cleats to get them over wintery ground. Those in wheelchairs don't have quite as many simple options. Essentially mini skis that lock onto the front wheels of a wheelchair, Wheelblades are designed as an easy-to-use solution that aid traction and give a little extra oomph through snow, ice and slush.
We've been following Honda’s Stride Management Assist since its first unveiling
in 2008, to the introduction of its sturdier cousin
into the workplace and then its U.S. tour
in 2009. Now the ASMIO spin off is scheduled to undergo field tests by Japan's National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG). The NCGG will test 40 units of the device on people with limited walking ability at the Elder Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Center at Resora Obu Shopping Terrace in Obu, Japan.