The world’s first ‘car in bag’ has now become a reality thanks to the Tokyo-based engineering team Cocoa Motors. Japanese engineer Kuniako Saito with his team recently revealed a portable transporter that is so small that it can be carried in the backpack. He says that his studies in electric car motor control systems instigated the idea to build such a vehicle. In an interview, he said, “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?”
The transporter, being called the ‘WalkCar’ is a lithium ion battery-powered device which is of the size of a laptop and resembles a skateboard. It looks like an inverted iPad with wheels made of aluminum. Depending on whether it is an outdoor version or an indoor one, its weight varies between 4.4 and 6.6 pounds or two and three kilograms.
According to Kuniako, the ‘WalkCar’ will serve many other purposes including having the capability and power to push wheelchairs. It can also be used to push other weights like trolleys with packages. The lightweight board can sustain loads up to 265 pounds or 120 kilograms. It can demonstrate speeds up to 6.2 miles per hour or 10 kilometers per hour and can cover distances up to 7.4 miles or 12 kilometers after being charged for three hours. It can handle steep inclines even at a high speed.
The vehicle is extremely easy to ride. Once the user steps on the car, it automatically starts; while getting off it will stop the vehicle. The direction of the ‘WalkCar’ is changed by shifting one’s weight like done on a skateboard. It would not need any parking space owing to its small size. It will be very useful in Japan as commuters can easily carry it in trains. However, its small wheels are yet to show robustness against cracks and other hurdles on the streets and sidewalks.
The ‘WalkCar’ will be available on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter from autumn 2015. Shipping will begin in spring 2016 for which customers can reserve their vehicles. It will cost around 100,000 Japanese Yen or $800. Its main competitor includes IO Hawk self-balancing board that is already in the market but not as small and portable as the ‘WalkCar’.
By means of building such a vehicle, Satio wants to show the world that Japan is as innovative as the U.S. He wants to reverse the existing trend according to which the US invents products and Japan improves them to build better versions. It is indeed an expedient transporter with the video looking convincing and impressive. The hopes of its success lie in the market’s response when it is eventually available fro pre-order and shipped to customers.