Ford is busy transforming itself from a car manufacturer to a mobility company. Mobility is essentially a code word for what is popularly known as the “last mile” problem. After people fight their way through morning traffic and find a parking space, they are often a mile or more away from their final destination. At the end of the work day, the problem plays out in reverse.
Kilian Vas, a Ford systems engineer in Cologne, Germany was one of 633 people who submitted proposals for personal mobility solutions as part of the company’s Last Mile Mobility Challenge. His proposal is called the Carr-E. It looks like a cross between a skate board, a Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner, and a Segway.
The Carr-E can transport people or objects weighing up to 250 lbs and has a range of 14 miles at speeds up to 11 mph. It is designed to fit in the space for a spare tire in the trunk of a car. It has been shortlisted for the innovation challenge finals alongside the TriCiti — a folding electric tricycle that can be easily adapted into a shopping cart, stack trolley or golf buggy and the eChair concept — an electric wheelchair that can load itself automatically into a vehicle.
“We really need to reinvent the wheel, to find new approaches to mobility,” Vas said. “When developing the Carr-E, I was inspired by Ford’s expansion into both an auto and a mobility company, but I’m also aware of how rapidly cities are growing and how getting around urban areas will become progressively more complicated. I really wanted to create a device that makes commuting easier and more fun.”
Vas collaborated with his colleague Daniel Hari and his manager Dr. Uwe Wagner. He also worked with designers from Ford of Europe and prototyping specialists from RWTH Aachen University to create the Carr-E. The four-wheeled device is designed to complement the use of a vehicle and support commuters during the final part of their journey, between parking space and destination. The Carr-E can also be used to transport heavy objects. Users simply place the object on the device and it will follow an electronic transmitter they keep in their possession.
Is the Carr-E goofy? Oh, yeah. Bigly, as The Donald would say. But that doesn’t mean 5 or 10 year from now these little beauties won’t be skittering down sidewalks in cities all around the world.
Source: Inside EVs Photo credit: Ford