An inflatable e-scooter compact enough to be stored inside a commuter’s backpack has been unveiled in Japan.
The Poimo, developed by the University of Tokyo, can be inflated in just over a minute, using an electric pump.
The creators said they wanted to create a vehicle that minimised the potential for injury in the event of an accident.
However, experts say e-scooter rules still need to be clarified by the government before such modes of transport can be considered safe.
The Poimo has five solid, detachable components:
- two sets of wheels
- an electric motor
- a battery
- handlebars with a built-in wireless controller
It is made primarily out of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which is already used to make products such as airbeds.
The vehicle weighs about 5.5kg (12lb) in total.
But researchers hope to reduce this for subsequent prototypes.
“We believe that our inflatable mobility, which is different from existing mobility systems and creates new relationships with people, will be useful for the city in the future,” said Ryuma Niiyama, part of the development team at the University of Tokyo.
Californian company Bird launched a pilot service in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2018.
But e-scooters are currently banned on UK roads.
That could change next month, though, following an urgent government review of the legislation.
Ollie Chadwhick, managing director at e-scooter-maker Electra-Zoom, said: “We have written to the Transport Minister, Grant Shapps, asking him to expedite this legislation, so that people can revolutionise the way they travel, in tandem with the return to work and the arrival of summer, without the risks of overcrowded public transport or reliance on cars.”
Media manager Sam Jones told BBC News: “Cycling UK believes they should be legalised but cautiously, keeping them off pavements and carefully limiting the maximum speed and power of their electric motors,” Mr Jones .
“Cautious legislation can be relaxed if this proves to be justified.
“However, we can’t do the opposite and restrict faster or higher-powered e-scooters once people are already using them.”