Personal mobility took another twist at last week’s International Consumer Electronics Show with a demonstration of an electric, seat-less, unicycle dubbed Solowheel.
The Solowheel requires the rider to straddle the wheel by standing on fold-out footboards placed on either side of the wheel.
When the rider leans forward, the wheel engages a battery-powered 1,000W electric motor that can send it — and its rider — zooming along at 10 miles per hour.
A gyroscope in the wheel helps keep the rider upright, who can then steer Solowheel by twisting his or her feet, which is claimed to be much easier than steering using hip movements. The vehicle is slowed down by the rider leaning backwards.
It is powered by a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which takes two hours to fully charge and has a range of 15–20 miles. Like hybrid cars, the Solowheel battery reportedly recaptures energy when going downhill or slowing down.
The 11.7kg multi-terrain vehicle weighs roughly the same as a folding bicycle and can be carried around with relative ease.
The Solowheel, created by inventor Shane Chen, was released onto the UK market in July 2011 and retails for £1,899.