Despite not becoming the personal transport revolution that it was designed to be, the Segway has provided a wealth of design fodder for numerous self-balancing concepts, prototypes and production single occupancy vehicles.
Mohamad Sadegh Samakoush Darounkolayi’s entry into this year’s Michelin Design Challenge, however, probably owes more to the Disney/Pixar film WALL-E – hopefully the users of his Supple concept won’t end up being the grossly overweight, lethargic, mentally-challenged descendants of humanity like those aboard the Axiom cruise ship.
Essentially a self-balancing chair set above an omnidirectional ball, the idea is that Supple will benefit from automated wireless guidance technology, with the driver/rider just needing to choose a destination on a GPS map using the touchscreen console, and the vehicle taking care of the rest. The 19 year-old mechanical engineering student from Iran also sees the electric transport solution having the ability to join with others to form a two-person tandem “motorcycle” or four-person automobile.
It would appear that Supple is primarily meant for indoor/covered use or for regions less prone to rainfall and, while not mentioned in the design brief, presumably there would be some wireless way for individual vehicles to talk to each other and avoid collisions or bottlenecks.