Segway has announced that its family of patrol vehicles is about to get a new member. Developed for the security, law enforcement, emergency response and military markets, the new SE-3 Patroller is a little different from its self-balancing two-wheeled stablemates. It has been treated to a third wheel out front, reportedly giving the stand-up electric vehicle a greater visible presence, even when parked, and allowing for easier mount and dismount.
“It has a top speed of 6 km/h, it balances itself, and you couldn’t crash it if you tried. How can you possibly see that as one of the biggest thrills of your life?” That was the response from an automotive journalist colleague at the Tokyo Motor Show after I eulogized riding Honda’s UNI-CUB β personal mobility device. After a lifetime of journalism covering every form of technology, cars, motorcycles and "boys toys,” from driving and riding exotica worth a decade's wages, this was one the greatest thrills I had experienced – being one of the first to ride a landmark personal transportation device as important as Henry Ford’s Model T.
With big changes likely in the global transport infrastructure, the race is on to create the missing link – the smallest, lightest man-packable form of motorized transport yet known. Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW and Nissan have all shown vehicles in this area, but none have yet hit the market. The best-of-breed is currently the Yikebike
and it announced today that it has further extended its lead, lightening its US$4,000 Carbon
model from 11.5 kg to 11.2 kg and extending its range to 15 km (9.3 miles). There's also now a choice of Yikebikes with two cheaper versions at 12.7 kg ($3,000) and 14 kg ($2000).
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.
Although it's not that uncommon to encounter people riding Segways
, self-balancing vehicles haven't revolutionized urban transport as some expected. Created by Argentinean inventor Marcelo Fornaso, TILTO is a new incarnation of the idea behind the Segway. It replaces the stiff platform and wheels with tilting equivalents, while eliminating handlebars or a steering wheel. It is an electrically powered, single-person vehicle, with a maximum range of 15 km (9,32 miles) and top speed of 20 kph (12 mph).
The continuing progress of electric motorcycle racing was illustrated this week when MotoCzysz won the TT Zero Race at the Isle of Man for the second year running. In achieving a new lap record for electric motorcycles of 99.513 mph, the Segway-sponsored MotoCzysz E1PC went within a whisker of claiming the GBP10,000 prize for the first electric bike to lap the 37 mile circuit at 100mph at the same time as demonstrating yet another quantum leap in electric bike performance from last year’s 96.820 mph average
and the 2009 winning average of 87.434 mph.
Despite not becoming the personal transport revolution that it was designed to be, the Segway
has provided a wealth of design fodder for numerous self-balancing concepts
single occupancy vehicles. Mohamad Sadegh Samakoush Darounkolayi's entry into this year's Michelin Design Challenge, however, probably owes more to the Disney/Pixar film WALL-E
– hopefully the users of his Supple concept won't end up being the grossly overweight, lethargic, mentally-challenged descendants of humanity like those aboard the Axiom cruise ship.
Bombardier's concept for a one-wheeled self-balancing motorcycle-like vehicle called the EMBRIO
has been a long time Gizmag favorite. It was envisioned as the type of personal transportation that people might be using 20 years from now. Well, if 21 year-old inventor Ben Gulak has his way, consumers will be able to buy a similar vehicle a lot sooner. His battery electric Uno may look like a regular motorbike at higher speeds, but when it slows down, the wheels realign themselves into a side-by-side configuration – seen in profile, it looks like a unicycle. We caught up with Ben to get the latest news on the project.
Britain held its first free eco-car show last month on London's famous royal driveway, The Mall. The event was held as part of HRH Prince Charles's latest sustainability initiative “Start”, which aims to promote positive steps to leading a sustainable lifestyle, and was opened by his “Garden Party to Make a Difference”. The Start Eco-Car Spectacular aimed to showcase the future of green transport with a variety of bicycles, cars and other environmental transport solutions.
While rear-hinged back doors are not new in the motor industry (Rolls Royce Phantom/Ghost and Mazda RX8), the first pictures of the GM/Opel/Vauxhall Meriva have surfaced and the FlexDoors and FlexSpace features seen in concept cars over the last few years are finally set for market launch in a family car (main pic and top right). First seen in the groundbreaking Flexstreme Concept Car
from IAA Frankfurt 2007 (bottom right pic), then further refined with the Meriva Concept at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show (centre right pic), the flex theme combines improved access/egress and a suite of features offering a quickly reconfigurable interior and is likely to be welcomed by families which need to cater for several types of mobility with one vehicle.