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Mobility

BMW has further strengthened its commitment to an electric mobility future by announcing the opening of its first i Store on July 25. To celebrate the event, the German auto giant has developed a new folding pedal-electric bike called the i Pedelec. Like the Voltitude, the new bike can be rolled along when folded to make getting on and off trains or buses, or in and out of elevators, a little less troublesome, and benefits from a geared electric hub motor, high performance batteries and disc braking at the front and rear. BMW also says that two folded i Pedelec bikes can be comfortably squeezed into the trunk space of its forthcoming i3 EV, and that their batteries can be charged while in there. Read More
Researchers working at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have successfully made use of electrical and chemical stimulation techniques to excite neurons in the lower spinal cord of previously paralyzed rats, enabling the subject rodents to walk and even run when suspended by a vest which provides balance and restricts movement to the hind legs only. Read More
Auto China is probably the most influential automobile show in the world at present. China now produces and consumes more cars than any other nation, so its needs will heavily influence personal transport globally in coming decades. Some early trends are emerging as to what we'll see, and as congestion in China increases and parking centrally becomes prohibitively expensive, a car will increasingly only get you part of the way to your destination. Geely and BMW both showed cars with inclusive last-mile transport at Auto China, but the number of last mile Transportation Appliance options under development by auto manufacturers is growing rapidly. Read More
Sometimes the most advanced innovations are rooted in the simplest questions. In this case, the question was, "If we can help a person with no legs to run, why can’t we help a person with an injured leg to walk?" The answer was the Flex Leg. Read More
Amongst the modern furniture and “design-art” on display at this year’s Design Miami/ international design show visitors were also treated to the Bjarke Ingels Group’s (BIG) vision for the future of urban mobility. Dubbed “Urban Future,” the international architectural firm’s installation, created with the cooperation of Audi, provided a glimpse of how its concept for the city street of the future that networks with vehicles and pedestrians might actually work. Read More
While we’ve covered many developments in the field of prosthetics, such high-tech advances are beyond the reach of those in the developing world where the rates of amputation due to war are highest. Now U.S. Army soldiers stationed in Afghanistan have developed a simple prototype prosthetic leg that can be constructed using local resources to allow the victims of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and land mines to get back on their feet quickly and cheaply. Read More
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, making it more difficult for older people to walk will actually improve their mobility. Walking on unpredictable and uneven surfaces can improve balance and help reduce risk of falling. Working on this principle, researchers at Glasgow's University of Strathclyde in collaboration with Israeli medical products company Step of Mind Ltd. (SoM) have developed an innovative training shoe based on this principle called Re-Step that incorporates four motors on the bottom of each shoe to make it more difficult for the wearer to walk, therefore helping in rehabilitation from movement disorders such as those that result from stroke or brain trauma. Read More
Seemingly simple things like talking to people at eye level and reaching things on shelves can be a huge drawback for those in wheelchairs. Sitting in a wheelchair for extended periods can also lead to the increased risk of certain infections and blood circulation problems. A robotic exoskeleton called REX puts wheelchair users back on their feet, enabling a person to stand, walk and go up and down stairs and slopes. Read More
Journeys from home to the nearest bus stop, train station or news stand may well prove too far for walking, but not really far enough to justify the expense of getting in the car. For those in-between journeys, you need a lightweight personal transport solution. Maybe something like the Treadway Mobility which has been entered into this year's James Dyson Awards competition. Designed to strap over existing footwear or to step into, the wearable motorized shoes could just be geeky enough for tech fans and cool enough for thrill-seeking teenagers. But not just yet. Read More
Some of you may recall our piece on Honda's Body Support Assist prototype last year. As a quick update to that story, those of you in the New York area will get a chance to see it in person as a part of the "Why Design Now?" exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Read More
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