Growing up as a young boy, I always dreamed of building vehicles. At one point around 4th grade, I was convinced I could make an actual flying car out of repurposed shopping carts skinned with fabric.
I've also always been a bit of a thrill seeker. When I was in 5th grade, my dad helped me build a soapbox. We used parts from an old baby stroller, and the handle was going to be the 'roll bar'. When my dad helped me install this 'roll bar', I doubt if he ever thought I would actually need it. It was 'just for looks', but he was wrong.
One day, in the presence of all my friends (which, I'm sure helped ignite the situation), I decided to ride my soapbox down the steepest, longest, most intense hill in my hometown of Burnaby BC, without my parent's knowledge, of course. About half way down the hill, I realized I was going a little too fast, so decided to apply the 'brake', which happened to be a single-sided, lever-style wheel-lock, applied by pulling an extension string connected to the lever handle. What my 11 year old brain failed to realize was, what happens to an 'L' shaped wheel lock lever when it comes in contact with a wheel spinning about 900rpm? If you can imagine, the second it touched the wheel, it shot off the side like an airplane propeller.
I proceeded to venture onto the oncoming traffic lane in order to take the widest turn possible onto a side street. Halfway through the turn, both outer tin metal disc wheels instantly bent 90 degrees, causing my soapbox to flip over. It was awesome. I got to try out the 'roll bar'!
Fast forward 30 years, I believe the same desire I had as a kid to make really cool vehicles and go fast, never left. In fact, I have raced in four different Red Bull Soapbox Races since 2006, and actually took second place in the 2009 Los Angeles race as Dark Helmet from the movie Spaceballs.
As a product designer, I have learned to identify where problems and opportunities exist within consumer markets, and carefully consider product solutions to address these needs. I created the URB-E to address a fast growing trend we have been observing over the last few years known as the 'last mile' scenario. As urban environments continue to grow, and city congestion increases, more and more people are choosing to utilize clean public transportation to commute. The problem is, though, how does one get from their last train stop to their final destination, if it is several blocks, or even miles away?
Unlike bicycles and other personal e-vehicles, the URB-E is extremely compact and portable, and can easily get onto a very crowded train or bus. Also, it is an all-electric vehicle with no pedaling needed, so you no longer need to show up to work or class all sweaty. It has a 20 mile range on a single charge, a top speed of 15mph, weighs 27lbs, and can fold small enough to stay with you on a train or bus, or fit in the trunk of your car.
I'd like to think I've learned a thing or two about designing vehicles since childhood, but one thing I know for sure, if you're going to include a roll bar, perhaps you should first make sure you have good brakes.
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