Mobility in Limbo
Ninebot Mini is a Segway-like vehicle in miniature format. As the original Segway is difficult to transport due to its size, since taking over Segway Inc., the Chinese firm Ninebot has developed a vehicle that fits inside any car boot. The result is an inexpensive and electrically powered two-wheeler called the Ninebot Mini. The perpendicular “handle” in the middle of the Segway has been designed in such a way that the driver can stand on board safely while also being stabilised. The Ninebot Mini is controlled by weight transfer and can cover 22 kilometres when the battery is fully charged. In addition, the vehicle has a number of smart functions, including one that ensures that the Segway stops during a fall.
The Hoverboard, developed by Hoverboard Technologies, does not in fact hover, but gives the impression that it is flying while standing and riding on it. The design of the Hoverboard is based on that of a classic skateboard. In the middle of the board is a wheel that both allows the user to drive the board and controls its motor and sensory functions. The LED lights mounted on the outside of the Hoverboard also allow the user to ride it safely in the darkness. The Hoverboard can also be linked up to a smartphone app, which protects it against theft, among other things, by allowing the vehicle to be deactivated remotely. The Hoverboard is expected to appear on the market in July 2016.
The engineer Kuniako Saito and his team at Cocoa Motors have invented the Walk Car, a mini Segway that looks similar to a Macbook Air or a bathroom scale due to its size and silver aluminium finish. The Walk Car was created as a means of transport that is very convenient due to its small size and can easily be carried around in a bag. Like the Segway, the Walk Car can be steered by its users shifting their body weight. The Walk Car travels at ten kilometres per hour and has the capacity to travel twelve kilometres. The product is due to be released in spring 2016.
The car manufacturer Lexus has invented Slide, a hoverboard that floats above the ground. The concept was developed at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden, in conjunction with Evico. The Slide was created following an implementation period of 18 months. The project is a blend of the very latest technology and elegant design. While the upper surface of the hoverboard consists of natural bamboo, the underlying magnetic levitation technology allows it to bear weight of up to 90 kilogrammes and thus glide over the ground. The one caveat, however, is that the ground on which the hoverboard is to float must be equipped with permanent magnets. Slide is a prototype and as such will not go into production.