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Treadway Mobility concept puts personal electric transport at your feet


July 9, 2010

Peter Treadway sees the future of personal mobility as a motorized attachment to existing footwear that will allow for normal walking, cycling and driving but offer a short-range burst of wheeled propulsion when required

Peter Treadway sees the future of personal mobility as a motorized attachment to existing footwear that will allow for normal walking, cycling and driving but offer a short-range burst of wheeled propulsion when required

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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.

Gizmag has featured a number of short-range personal transport solutions over the years. It's fair to say that most of them have been either electric bikes or scooters, which are great but perhaps not quite as portable as a pair of trusty blades or roller shoes. After testing numerous personal propulsion methods – from wheels to tracks and tiny bicycles to scooters – Peter Treadway settled on "something that would be exhilarating, but safer than most other forms of small transportation, that would maintain the natural center of gravity without raising the user up to where they might lose their balance."

The aim of the Treadway Mobility design is to produce something that can be operated using a wireless hand controller, simply straps onto existing footwear or allows the user to step in and then forget about them until needed. Treadway has built numerous proof of concept prototypes made from easily tweakable, but inevitably heavy, steel frames that are driven by lithium polymer battery-powered electric motors. As the design and the technology is refined towards production models, the Treadway system should become less awkward and industrial and more streamlined and fashionable like the design renderings that show colorful wheels and a rear LED lighting system for higher visibility at night.

Treadway has entered his concept into this year's James Dyson Awards competition, an international award scheme aimed at inspiring student designers and engineers (or recent graduates). The reward for the top placing is GBP10,000 (just over US$15,000) for the designer or team, another GBP10,000 for the university department to which he/she/they belong, a visit to the Dyson research & development facilities in either the UK or Malaysia and a trophy. The overall winner will be announced in October.

The following video shows a Treadway prototype or two in action.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

this would take as much energy to balance as it would to walk.


It wouldn\'t be hard to balance. It\'s just a motorized version of those two-wheeled skates that tried to ride with the Heelys fad.


Yes so. this is one of those times where I am glad I didn\'t stop mid video. At first I thought it was stupid to carry all that extra weight when they have sneakers with wheels that could do pretty much the same thing.

I have to say, the tread at the end, made me think there might be something there. Perhaps someday we will have a better fuel source then batteries and this might be something really interesting.

Perhaps really small mechanical batteries or some sort diesel fuel cell. regardless keep up the good work.

Michael Mantion

I actually thought it was a play on segway...


I would find it annoying to have to carry extra weight.. what about accidental steps in a water puddle? good concept but keep working on it.. might catch on with more improvements.. and the power pack on your back? that really needs to be reworked.. how about using R/C tecnology.. ? I could strap on to R/C buggies on my feet!! and really go..

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