It seems strange to be saying that there’s now another
self-balancing electric unicycle on the market, but hey – that’s technology for you. Joining the likes of the eniCycle
, we now have the LED-light-strip-adorned EcoBoomer iGo.
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).
Back in 1967, California-based Gyro Transport Systems built a prototype vehicle known as the Gyro-X. The automobile had just two wheels, one in front and one in the back and, as the car’s name implies, it utilized a built-in gyroscope to remain upright when not moving. Although its developers hoped to take the Gyro-X into production, the company went bankrupt, and the one-and-only specimen of the car became an orphan. For much of the past 40-plus years, that car has passed from owner to owner, its condition deteriorating along the way. Now, it’s about to be restored to its former (weird) glory.
Bossa Nova Robotics, a spin-off of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, has announced a new research platform called mObi. The mObi platform is based on a design by Professor Ralph Hollis, who developed a robot that balanced and moved on a ball instead of wheels, called the Ballbot
. Thanks to its unique form of locomotion, mObi moves gracefully in any direction and could be put to work as a telepresence robot in the future.
Murata Manufacturing, a Japanese electronics company, has developed a walker called KeePace that stays upright on its own. The walker uses the same sensors famously demonstrated by the company's self-balancing robots which ride bicycles and unicycles without falling over.
Thanks to gyros, accelerometers and sophisticated control mechanisms, remaining upright on a two-wheeled vehicle is no longer quite the balancing act it might once have been, even when at a standstill. Visions of future mobility like Honda's U3-X
take such ideas in whole new directions, quite literally, by including multi-directional capabilities, and concepts such as Supple
go even further still by ditching wheels altogether in favor of balls. It's this freedom of movement that inspired a group of students from the Charles W Davidson College Of Engineering at San Jose State University to begin work on the ambitious Spherical Drive System (SDS) electric motorcycle.
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.
Inner city congestion, rising parking charges, pedestrian-only zones and other measures to persuade folks to leave the car at home can seem a little at odds with the increasing pace of our busy working lives. Getting the train to work is all well and good but if the office is quite a distance from the station, then workers are faced with hopping on more public transport or taking along a portable personal vehicle like a folding bicycle, mini scooter or unicycle. If you want to avoid having to hit the showers before sitting at your desk, then motorized versions of most are now available. Regular readers will already know that we're quite fond of the electric unicycle, particularly when it's combined with self-balancing mechanisms. One of the first to be featured was the SBU
from Focus Designs, the third version of which has just been released.
Two things are certain in this crazy world - unicycles are cool and unicycles are seriously hard to ride. Well no longer. Now anybody can clown about on a unicycle and what's more, you don't even have to pedal. Thanks to Focus Designs and several years of development the learning curve required to master the unicycle has been reduced from several weeks to an average of 20 minutes, making it a viable and incredibly cheap-to-run personal transport.
As any avid biker will tell you, motorcycles have a lot of advantages over cars - they use less fuel, accelerate faster, are more maneuverable, can be parked in more places, and don't incorporate the weight of extra seating for passengers who are non-existent on solo commutes. As many other
people will tell you, however, motorcycles also leave their occupants open to the rain and cold, and can potentially tip over and scatter those occupants across the road. That's where Lit Motors' C-1 comes into the picture. It's a proposed fully-enclosed two-passenger electric motorbike that uses an electronically-controlled gyroscopic stabilizing system to stay upright when stopped, or even when struck from the side in an accident.