Forget the Segway, a Japanese engineer has built what he calls the “WalkCar”—a super portable personal transporter that looks like a laptop and can fit in your backpack.
Kuniako Saito, a 26-year-old engineer, and the Cocoa Motors team are behind the design. They recently revealed a prototype of the sleek contraption, which is powered by a lithium battery, made from aluminium and is no heavier than 3 kg (Reuters).
So far demonstrations have focused on transporting single people, but according to Business Insider, Saito “expects to see many other uses for his transporter, as he says it has enough power to help people push wheelchairs with ease. The lightweight aluminum board is stronger than it looks, and can take loads of up to 120kg (265 pounds).”
Saito promises it is easy to ride: users should be able to move around obstacles simply by shifting their weight from side to side. It also reaches top speeds of around 10 km per hour and can travel distances of up to 12 km before requiring a recharge.
In an interview with Reuters, Saito elaborated on how the new product came about. “I thought, ‘what if we could just carry our transportation in our bags, wouldn’t that mean we’d always have our transportation with us to ride on?’ and my friend asked me to make one, since I was doing my Master’s in engineering specifically on electric car motor control systems.”
“It seems to me that the U.S. is always the one which invents new products and Japan is the one which takes those products and improves on them to make a better version of it. But here in this case, the WalkCar is a totally new product I have started from scratch. So I also I want to show the world that Japan can also be innovative.”
If you’re keen to get your hands on one, Saito has said they will be available later this year through crowd-funding website Kickstarter. The WalkCar will be priced at around ¥100,000, with shipping expected to begin in the first half of 2016. (We’ll have to see when they show up in their first music video…)