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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Eco-Innovation On Wheels: Meet The Micromobility Design Contest Visionaries

Just lately 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 nicely thought by designs and a few very odd submissions. The competitors was sponsored and arranged by Envo Drive Techniques, a BC-based electrical micromobility producer and distributor. Its lineup contains small work and pleasure electrical automobiles for roads, trails, snow, and water.

And now the winners have been introduced: congratulations to Alan, Symon, Chen, and Ondrej!

Envo Next Move Design Competition Winners

Envo Subsequent Transfer Design Competitors Winners

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 around the globe have been entered, however fortunately the Envo people trimmed it all the way down to 46 for my fellow judges and I to attain.

These judges have 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 automobile firm Electra Meccanica, amongst different endeavors. Miles Keller is an award-winning industrial designer and a part of Ontario School of Artwork and Design’s college. Rounding out the listing 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 range of the group’s views have 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 couple of issues. I’ve owned or ridden quite a lot of tiny electrical automobiles, from unicycles to skateboards to scooters to bikes to a bike. 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 area 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’d 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 passion, and even constructed a couple of issues I’d designed, principally items of furnishings, in addition to having knowledgeable profession delivering software program merchandise with consumer experiences knowledgeable by the acquired knowledge of luminaries like Donald Norman and IDEO. Removed from an skilled on industrial design or electrical micromobility design, however knowledgeable and with adequate expertise to know my limitations within the area.

Every of the judges got here with pursuits and views of their very own. Some have been within the novel, others the aesthetics and others the technical and market viability, which is the place my focus principally lay. I appreciated an inflatable paddle board design with a seat and electrical motor that might be added, because it struck me as a fantastic seaside play factor for teenagers and fogeys, 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 area, whereas the others have 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 kind which aggregated and sorted the outcomes throughout a number of classes: context of use, kind issue, efficiency and constraints, know-how feasibility and imaginative and prescient, modern but easy, social consciousness, sustainability, and enterprise viability. I leaned into the context of use, feasibility, and viability, personally. I’m huge on individuals understanding who and what circumstances they’re designing for, and making certain that it is sensible.

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 gradual 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 might 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 truly look sufficiently like something Jeep to make the purpose that the designer was attempting to make. There have been a couple of turkeys among the many virtually 50 entries that handed Envo’s preliminary cull.

Alan Tam's next generation ATV design winner for Envo contest

Alan Tam’s subsequent technology ATV design winner for Envo contest

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 nicely thought by. It was very simple to see it being utilized by parks staff, warehouse staff, and in farmers’ fields.

Chen Rolburd & Symon Meshulam's Flipo+ stroller power system for Envo contest

Chen Rolburd & Symon Meshulam’s Flipo+ stroller energy system for Envo contest

Subsequent was Chen Rolburd and Symon Meshulam’s Flipo+ stroller addition. It’s mainly a two-wheeled hoverboard that has an attachment to the undercarriage of strollers that permits the mum or dad to drive the stroller round at a bit greater than strolling speeds, up hills and the like, and may pivot underneath 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 search 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 consumer expertise perspective, nevertheless it was utterly viable in any other case.

Ondrej Adamec's Blatto Buggy entry for Envo contest

Ondrej Adamec’s Blatto Buggy entry for Envo contest

Final, however not least, was a very fascinating stackable work automobile, Ondrej Adamec’s Blatto Buggy. It’s a easy, low velocity automobile with a fundamental 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 fundamental kind 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 anyplace. I may simply think about a container being delivered to a catastrophe reduction heart, a building web site, or a navy 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 lots, and might need put it on the high of the listing.

This was my first design competitors judging expertise, and I hope it received’t be my final. It was fascinating to see how designers are pondering by the challenges and alternatives that trendy light-weight electrical motors and batteries offered in micromobility, even when generally the outcomes have been duds. It was additionally attention-grabbing to see how broadly various the standard of submissions have 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 have been all two- to four-wheel floor automobiles, however there have been quite a lot of snow and water automobiles, together with a couple of that have been within the high 15 of just about 400 entries, however not among the many profitable three.


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