A hundred years ago all the smart young people were cruising the streets of New York and London on the Autoped, a gasoline powered folding scooter. In our earlier coverage of it we quoted:
Now, a century later, it's back in an all-electric model that looks a whole lot better and safer. It's the Smart Ped, made in Milan by Nino Klansek and the people at FlyKly, who previously brought us the FlyKly Smart Wheel for your bike. They gave TreeHugger a heads-up on their new device after seeing our Autoped coverage, but are now up on Kickstarter for all to see.
This fascinating machine represents the world’s first model of scooter. It was the only motorcycle to be built in New York City. Though adopted by the U.S. Post Office and other services – as well as fashion-conscious women in Europe and America – it was also used by New York gang members for easy getaways – they could motor down narrow alleys to escape police in cars behind them.
It's a very interesting device. Unlike the old Autoped, there isn't a throttle; like a Pedelec bike it senses the riders' push and then gives it a boost. So you never have to worry about how you control it, or going too fast and getting into dangerous situations, because you still have to do some work of pushing. It's more intuitive this way and a whole lot safer. It just lets you go a little bit farther and faster:
It runs on a smaller version of the smart wheel motor used in the bike, mounted in a 16" wheel.
The all-in-one electric motor, battery and electronics come from the Smart Wheel concept, all fitted in the rear wheel. The aluminum housing, consisting of an electro motor, battery set, electronics and forward thinking sensors, is meticulously assembled and crafted into a wonderful piece of tech.
Building a scooter with wheels that big gives a much smoother, more stable ride. It also folds up and is light enough (11 kg or under 25 pounds) that you can pick it up and carry it with you on transit or even planes. It will run at a not crazy-fast 16 MPH for 18 to 30 miles, depending on how much you are kicking. It has "smart sensors" to do kick detection, mass estimation, friction estimation, speed and acceleration, all of which it probably needs to figure out how much push to give you.
And of course there is an app; the FlyKy people also designed a clever light that doubles as a phone holder, so you can "track how you ride and get suggestions for alternative routes to make your commute safer, easier and more fun. It creates tailor made reports on how much money, time and carbon footprint points can be saved with switching to a different mobility pattern. Use it to control your Smart Ped or connect with your friends and share your rides and stats."
We have long been fans of the idea of multimodal travel, the idea that you might have a device that can take you that "last mile" or couple of miles from home to transit, from transit to destination. I have also recently tried out an electric assist bike and think that there is a role for them in making life just a bit easier in hilly cities or for older riders.
And if you have to dress like this to go to the office, an electric boost makes a lot of sense. The Smart Ped looks like a very interesting new option. More on their Kickstarter site.