Ever imagined stashing a full-size scooter inside your backpack? Sounds impossible, right? Well, it was. At least until a team comprising students from the University of Tokyo and researchers from Mercari R4D unveiled Poimo, the world’s first inflatable electric scooter. Poimo is an acronym for Portable and Inflatable Mobility, a name that represents everything the scooter is about.
While this is certainly not the first micro-mobility solution around, it is arguably the most intriguing because it effectively solves the problem of portability. A lot of people would love to move around more often with scooters or e-bikes, but they also have to take the bus or train to work. Since there is no means of safely storing their mobility device at public stations, they stick with the traditional means of commuting, even as they are aware of the environmental impacts. With Poimo, all you have to do is deflate your scooter and fit it right into your backpack.
Design and features
The main body is made from thermoplastic polyurethane, the same material used for airbeds. After inflating the body, the rider would have to attach the detachable components, including the front and rear wheels, battery, electric motor, handlebars, and the built-in wireless controller. The design is such that the process of inflating the scooter’s body as well as attaching the components, should not take more than a few minutes.
Lightweight and portable
According to the manufacturers, Poimo inflatable electric scooter has a total weight of 5.5kg. The inflatable body contributes less than half the scooter’s mass, and the researchers are still working on making the parts lighter. Poimo’s lightweight feature distinguishes it from other comparable mobility solutions such as folding bikes. It is also considerably more compact than any similar mobility device as it fits right into an average-sized backpack.
A potentially safer mobility option
The manufacturers claim that Poimo’s inflatable body has the potential to herald a new wave of ‘soft mobility’ devices. Soft mobility devices are potentially safer for riders and pedestrians alike. Quoting from the team’s YouTube video, ‘a soft body enables safer user interactions with pedestrians and drivers.’
It remains unclear whether Poimo is meant to be driven on roads or pavements. However, available information points in favor of the latter. The general belief is that the scooter’s inflatable body will also reduce the severity of accidents if they do occur.
Longer battery life
Another advantage of the lightweight and inflatable structure is that the scooter’s motor has much less work. This maximizes battery life as well as autonomy. Needless to say, the scooter’s electric nature makes it environmentally friendly.
When it comes to electric scooters, the BICAR offers full energy autonomy with solar power and a back-up system with swappable batteries.
Poimo inflatable electric scooter is still under development, and very little is known about the market price. However, the manufacturers assured pricing is one of the problems of micro-mobility solutions they hope to address with their scooter.