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The Deus Ex Machina Wheeled Exoskeleton - new horizons in personal mobility

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June 12, 2008

The Deus Ex Machina Wheeled Exoskeleton - new horizons in personal mobility

The Deus Ex Machina Wheeled Exoskeleton - new horizons in personal mobility

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June 13, 2008 One of the most inspired design exercises we’ve ever seen is the Deus Ex Machina concept by Jake Loniak of the California's Art Center in Pasadena. The Deus Ex Machina defines a new type of anthropomorphic exoskeleton construction that is somewhere between Tommy Forsgren’s inspired fuel cell, carving, free-spirited Hermes concept and an exoskeleton, with a touch of Toyota’s I-REAL personal mobility machine thrown in. The Deus Ex Machina's motors are powered by high-energy-density batteries with ultracapacitors for instant and substantial peak power. With it’s lithe build, it doesn’t weigh much and is quicker than almost everything on wheels to its 75 mph top speed. It’s also a lot faster than any exoskeleton up to now, offering near superhuman powers for the human form. This is worth looking at!

The protective seven vertebrae backbone and built in helmet makes so much sense for an otherwise vulnerable lightweight motorcycle-like conveyance, being in effect, a helmet for the body. http://www.coolhunting.com/archives/2008/05/yamaha_wearable.php The spine/chassis is controlled by 36 pneumatic muscles with 2 linear actuators and like both the Toyota I-REAL and Forsgren’s Hermes, it both carves and extends its wheelbase for stability, offering a range of adaptable behaviours, all at the command of the rider. Whatsmore, with serious protection against large metal objects (aka cars), the ultra-quick Deus Ex Machina looks not only viable, but very compelling compared to a motorcycle. It might even be more exhilarating to ride than a bike as the rider is closer to the road and will be travelling quicker in the turns (given that three wheels is definitely better than two for going around corners). It should also be said that the integrity and strength of the adaptive chassis may be both its biggest weakness and it’s achilles heel, particularly if the long arms to the front wheels cannot effectively control wheel behaviours at speed.

On the problem side of things, we can forsee many. It will be too fast for the sidewalk which is a real shame because it could so easily mix with pedestrians if it behaviours could be reliably toned down for walking pace. We also have reservations about how much bad PR this new powered exoskeleton for mobility would get in its initial stages, if it comes to fruition. Like cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, steam boats, PWCs and Segways, every form of mobility is initially misunderstood, and usually endures a barrage from scornful naysayers before it is fully accepted. It is also exploited by the (lovable, they’re our readers) nutters who are the most likely first movers on such exotic thrill-seeking machinery.

Due to its lightning acceleration and effective top speed, the Deus Ex Machina will need to mix it with cars on public roads and we think there might be a community outcry if these machines were set loose on the public, much less get involved in an accident – they look just too weird and it will be many years before they could hope to achieve full road approval and we can’t imagine what crash test procedures might be imposed on such a machine to ensure public safety. On top of that, the unique performance capabilities of the lightweight high-torque electric trike will see hardcore skating and motorcycle desperados queuing for a ride and they will develop stunts and generally add heat to the naysayer boiler. We think the Deus Ex Machina could work and have serious x-factor cred with the nutters. Beyond that, it could be a glimpse of a future form of mobility. Whatsmore, there’s nothing there that’s impossible - it seems all doable NOW. We’re planning to talk to designer Jake Loniak and Professor Bumsuk Lim in short order and will fully articulate their mobility visions in a feature article in the next few days. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, there’s an excellent story here at http://www.greencardesign.co.uk/site/item.php?id=1210936143

Greencardesign which goes into the wonderful designs to emerge in the student population being nurtured by Professor Bumsuk Lim.

There are several other posts on the bike at Popular Mechanics, Hell For Leather Magazine, Gizmodo, Engadget et al.

http://www.engadget.com/2008/05/23/yamaha-wearable-motorcycle-concept-will-likely-remain-just-that/ http://hellforleathermagazine.com/2008/05/art-center-pasadena-shows-yama.html http://www.rippin-kitten.com/2008/05/29/thinking-outside-of-the-steel-pony/ http://gizmodo.com/392816/yamaha-branded-deus-ex-machina-motorcycle-exoskeleton-a-segway-on-steroids

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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