Let’s face it. During our typically hot and sweltering Bahraini summers, making an effort to go outside and walk, even to the cold store, is a big ‘no-no’. But it looks like we don’t have to make that effort of actually walking to the cold store anymore, thanks to a new four-wheeled contraption called the WalkCar.The WalkCar, designed by Tokyo-based engineering team Cocoa Motors, is a portable transporter ideal for getting around town with very little effort.The transporter is very slender and light, weighing 6.6 pounds, is made from aluminium, and is powered by a Lithium-ion battery. This ‘car’ can reach speeds of up to 6.2mph (10km/h) and can travel a total of 7.4 miles (12km), after a three-hour charge.
26-year old Kuniako Saito recently demonstrated the workings of WalkCar to Reuters, showing them (and us) just how easy it is to operate. To go, stand on it. To stop, get off. To steer, shift your weight around. The WalkCar is essentially a tinier skateboard, without the effort of having to use your leg to power its speed. As you can see in the video, the technology is also able to handle fairly steep inclines, even while pushing trolleys with packages.Saito said that his studies in electric car motor control systems sparked the idea for the new kind of ride. “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 masters in engineering specifically on electric car motor control systems,” he told Reuters.
Saito says that he is confident that WalkCar goes beyond bulkier devices such as the Segway or Toyota’s Winglet.“Maybe I just see it that way, but 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 want to show the world that Japan can also be innovative,” he said. (Quick sidenote, Saito: have you seen your country’s bathrooms?!)
Considering the WalkCar’s diminutive size, the device could be of interest to commuters in Japan’s major cities, where many people cycle from their home to the train station, and then walk from the station to the office. Bicycles aren’t allowed on trains in Japan, unless you’re willing to put in the effort of removing the wheels and bagging it up. So, the WalkCar could be an ideal way for covering the short distances at speed, especially in the morning, when your legs are still asleep.
The machine is up for pre-order from this fall for 100,000 yen (about 300BD), with shipping starting by spring 2016.
Yes, yes, this innovation removes the calorie-burning act of putting one foot in front of the other, but some days you’re just not in the mood to do so, and Japan understands that. So, Japan – keep innovating and never change.