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A part-bike, part-car personal commuting solution

Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.

The Concept

The Daburu is an electric personal vehicle that can move people of all ages within a city from the ease of a seated position. It is clean, quiet, comfortable, and narrow enough to go nearly anywhere, including bike paths and lanes. With speeds of up to 50 km/h and a range of 50 km on a single charge, the Daburu gives its rider the freedom and reach of conventional motor vehicles in a personal package. The vehicle is also equipped with a wireless charging system similar to Bombardier's primove technology, which allows re-charging without plugs when it is parked in a designated spot.

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The Background

The Daburu was developed as a natural evolution of the Zeus Prototype, which was also a two-wheeled personal transportation device. The Daburu comes with several upgrades, including an optional roof to protect the driver from bad weather.

When you pronounce 'Daburu' in Japanese it means double, referring to the side-by-side wheels that use the same balancing technology as the Segway.

How it works

Segway parts could be used to create the base of the vehicle. A comfortable padded seat would be installed on the unit's base, and a small suspension would absorb shocks coming from the road. To move the vehicle forward the pilot would simply push the control forward and, with the assistance of an electric motor, the seat would move beyond the centre of gravity. The vehicle's wheel would then rotate forward to compensate, just like on a Segway.

To turn left or right, the pilot would lean the controls in the desired direction. In the event of the Daburu losing power, a front skid plate under the feet of the rider could absorb the shock and safely stop the vehicle. The height of the vehicle's ground clearance could also be adjusted depending on whether you are riding on a flat or bumpy surface.

What it's used for

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The Daburu would be used by someone who has to commute downtown without having to drive a 4,000-pound car and burn fuel. The driver would be protected from rain and wind and would take less space on the road and in parking spots. It could also be used to go shopping.

The Daburu is not meant to replace a car, the subway or the bicycle. It is meant to address a niche market between all those modes of transportation. Another market is the one concerning people over a certain age and who have difficulty walking. They would rather ride around in a comfortable and efficient vehicle like the Daburu than using one of those silly four-wheel electric scooters that are so often associated with traditional wheelchairs.

Cities could also rent them at specific points like the bicycle share programs, though an important point would be to first make sure it's legal to operate in your jurisdiction before investing in such a concept. Personal Transporter and Neighborhood Electric Vehicle were great vehicles, but sales never picked up in part because legislation concerning the usage was not in place when those vehicles were offered for sale.

The Designer

The Daburu concept was developed in collaboration with Matthew Betteker, an award-winning Industrial Designer living in South Jutland, Denmark. Betteker graduated from the College for Creative Studies and works as a senior Designer for the LEGO group. He has also produced the concept images for the Sea-Drone.

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