innovative personal transportation system designed to fit neatly into
boot space usually occupied by a car’s spare wheel is among the
finalists in a Ford challenge to create future ‘last mile’ mobility
solutions for urban areas.
The Carr-E – developed by Kilian Vas, a Ford systems engineer based in
Cologne, Germany – was among 633 proposals for personal mobility
solutions created by Ford employees as part of the company’s Last Mile
Mobility Challenge to develop electric personal assistant devices that
will help to make transportation better in areas where vehicles are not
permitted or practical, and which help people to get to their final
destination from their car.
The Carr-E can transport people or
objects up to 120 kg, has a range of 22 kilometres (14 miles) and a top
speed of 18 km/h (11 mph). The innovative transport solution is
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 be autonomously loaded 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, and 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.
The TriCiti, developed by James Neugebauer, Torsten Gerhardt and Robert
Spahl – all working within Vehicle Architecture, Ford of Europe – is
also designed to be both a rideable device and all-purpose carrying
assistant. The foldable transportation solution can be adapted to carry
shopping or items such as golf bags, and can easily be taken onto public
transport or stored in a vehicle. The TriCiti has a range of 30
kilometres (19 miles) and a top speed of 20 km/h (12 mph).
eChair, developed by Gunther Cuypers, Robin Celis and David Longin – all
engineers at Ford’s Lommel Proving Grounds, Belgium – is a lightweight
electric wheelchair with a self-loading solution, designed to offer
greater independence to people with reduced mobility.
“Innovation and disruption is as much at the heart of how our engineers
think now, as it was when Henry Ford first set about transforming the
way we move,” said Walter Pijls, supervisor, Innovation Management for
Mobility, Ford of Europe. “Personal assistant devices can help people to
cover the final kilometres of their journey quickly and easily, and to
transport heavy objects they might not be able to carry.”
The increase in innovation at Ford – as measured by invention
disclosures – is expected to reach a company record in 2016, topping
last year’s record of more than 6,000. The number of individual Ford
employees creating inventions also has reached record levels since the
start of 2015, with more than 3,500 first-time inventors submitting new