Not too long ago I had the chance to be one of many judges for a worldwide electrical micromobility design competitors. The method was attention-grabbing, with some very properly thought by designs and a few very odd submissions. The competitors was sponsored and arranged by Envo Drive Programs, a BC-based electrical micromobility producer and distributor. Its lineup contains small work and pleasure electrical autos for roads, trails, snow, and water.
And now the winners have been introduced: congratulations to Alan, Symon, Chen, and Ondrej!
That is the primary time I’d been requested to be a design competitors decide, so the method was attention-grabbing. 382 designs from 34 international locations world wide had been entered, however fortunately the Envo of us trimmed it all the way down to 46 for my fellow judges and I to attain.
These judges had been an attention-grabbing group, by the way in which. Asbjoerk.S Mogensen is an award-winning e-bike and e-vehicle designer. Jerry Kroll is CEO of three-wheeled electrical automotive firm Electra Meccanica, amongst different endeavors. Miles Keller is an award-winning industrial designer and a part of Ontario Faculty of Artwork and Design’s college. Rounding out the record was Ali Kazemkhani, founder and CEO of Envo, and a mechanical engineer obsessive about all the niches that electrical micromobility will dominate, from enjoyable to deep utility. The variety of the group’s views had been clear from the numerous variance in opinions on the highest 15 scored designs that we mentioned on-line.
My perspective is formed by a number of issues. I’ve owned or ridden loads of tiny electrical autos, from unicycles to skateboards to scooters to bikes to a motorbike. I’ve used them for commuting, meals pickup runs, errands and only for the sensation of the breeze in my hair and wheels carving on pavement. I’ve been being attentive to this house for a very long time, with a 2016 article laying out what I suspected can be the dominant gamers within the non-bicycle entrants, and a 2018 sequence of articles on electrical bike market dimension, design attractor factors, well being advantages and dangers, what markets they might disrupt and why, and the like. I even keynoted a European electrical bike convention in 2020. However lengthy earlier than that, I did a bunch of 3D product modeling and design as a pastime, and even constructed a number of issues I’d designed, largely items of furnishings, in addition to having an expert profession delivering software program merchandise with person experiences knowledgeable by the obtained knowledge of luminaries like Donald Norman and IDEO. Removed from an professional on industrial design or electrical micromobility design, however knowledgeable and with enough expertise to know my limitations within the house.
Every of the judges got here with pursuits and views of their very own. Some had been within the novel, others the aesthetics and others the technical and market viability, which is the place my focus largely lay. I appreciated an inflatable paddle board design with a seat and electrical motor that might be added, because it struck me as an incredible seaside play factor for youths and oldsters, however the different judges weren’t in any respect enthusiastic about that one. Two of the judges spend nearly all of their day jobs within the micromobility house, whereas the others had been extra various. One even had a reservation on an Aptera, not the one three-wheeled freeway automobile represented among the many judges.
To attempt to get some consistency among the many usually very completely different opinions, Envo had a scoring system, mediated by an digital type which aggregated and sorted the outcomes throughout a number of classes: context of use, type issue, efficiency and constraints, expertise feasibility and imaginative and prescient, revolutionary but easy, social consciousness, sustainability, and enterprise viability. I leaned into the context of use, feasibility, and viability, personally. I’m massive on individuals understanding who and what circumstances they’re designing for, and making certain that it is smart.
Earlier than attending to the winners, it’s price mentioning a handful of the odder designs. One was a standup paddleboard form of factor with a built-in paddle wheel, combining two sluggish and inefficient types of locomotion into one vibrating mess. One other was purportedly an off-road automobile with no floor clearance in any respect. One other was a pedal-assist foiling board that will have fallen over each time it turned because of the mechanics of it. Maybe my favourite on this class was the design idea for a Jeep-brand snowmobile that had clearly been executed lengthy earlier than the competition, had no relationship to Envo or the competition, and didn’t really look sufficiently like something Jeep to make the purpose that the designer was making an attempt to make. There have been a number of turkeys among the many virtually 50 entries that handed Envo’s preliminary cull.
And now, the winners. The primary one, Alan Tam’s subsequent technology all terrain automobile, was a easy and clear design. Low-center of gravity body with batteries and wheels — I used to be amazed what number of designs ignored the chance of tipping over — on a drive-by-wire platform, and a number of use instances for stuff on high, from a pair of seats with a light-weight rain roof to an autonomous supply automobile cargo field. All very viable, all cleanly designed, and properly thought by. It was very straightforward to see it being utilized by parks employees, warehouse employees, and in farmers’ fields.
Subsequent was Chen Rolburd and Symon Meshulam’s Flipo+ stroller addition. It’s principally a two-wheeled hoverboard that has an attachment to the undercarriage of strollers that enables the mother or father to drive the stroller round at a bit greater than strolling speeds, up hills and the like, and may pivot beneath the stroller and out of the way in which for strolling in congested areas. A bit extra vary for the stroller, a bit much less human energy required to stand up hills. This one was considerably contentious, however I used to be fascinated to seek out the variety of photos and movies of individuals utilizing hoverboards with strollers in precisely this manner, and a Canadian electrically powered stroller at present on the market. Clearly there’s a market there. I noticed a few factors that required extra decision from an engineering and person expertise perspective, however it was utterly viable in any other case.
Final, however not least, was a extremely fascinating stackable work automobile, Ondrej Adamec’s Blatto Buggy. It’s a easy, low velocity automobile with a primary body designed for pretty flat surfaces, from concrete to tarmac to gravel roads. Drive-by-wire once more, permitting distant management, autonomous motion, and rider management. What was attention-grabbing was that in its primary type the floor was utterly flat. You might flip up a driver’s seat so it might be a mini flat mattress cart. You might flip open the again to create some easy, low bench seating to maneuver 3-4 individuals round. You might lash pipes or lumber to the highest and use it to maneuver them across the place whereas strolling beside it.
The design was very well thought by to shove into transport containers and be delivered wherever. I might simply think about a container being delivered to a catastrophe reduction heart, a building website, or a army camp, then the Blatto Buggies on the underside rolling a stack of 4 or 5 buggies out of the transport container, then unlashing them and getting them working shortly. It has an industrial aesthetic that appears a bit like IKEA designed a electrical cart that labored for some judges and didn’t for others. I appreciated it quite a bit, and might need put it on the high of the record.
This was my first design competitors judging expertise, and I hope it gained’t be my final. It was fascinating to see how designers are considering by the challenges and alternatives that fashionable light-weight electrical motors and batteries supplied in micromobility, even when typically the outcomes had been duds. It was additionally attention-grabbing to see how broadly various the standard of submissions had been, with some crude sketches that may have been aiming for low-rez authenticity, and a few very properly rendered and detailed designs. The profitable designs had been all two- to four-wheel floor autos, however there have been loads of snow and water autos, together with a number of that had been within the high 15 of just about 400 entries, however not among the many profitable three.
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