Carrying a folding bicycle and a bag on the commute can be cumbersome and not all that comfortable.
That’s why a team of Brazil-based developers have created Movpak, an electric skateboard that fits neatly into its own backpack.
All users have to do is pull a handle to release the board, which they can either ride or pull along the ground like a roller bag.
The gadget, which can travel up to 20 miles per hour and weighs 17 pounds, comes with a wireless remote control that speeds up or slows down the board. Impressively, the dual motor skateboard — currently at the funding stage on Indiegogo — can travel 10 miles on a single charge and the gizmo can even juice up a user’s phone.
Ivo Machado, founder of Movpak, explains how this hybrid vehicle is going to change the way we get around.
Why did you decide to develop this vehicle?
The idea came from my co-founder, Hugo Dourado, a Brazilian inventor who was traveling between Belgium and Netherlands, when one of those huge garages with thousands of bikes caught his attention. He asked himself: “Why do people have to leave their vehicles before they get on the train? And how do they get from the next station to work? Something is missing in this process." That is when the idea came to him. Rather than design a foldable electric bike, which can be big, heavy and cumbersome, he thought of something simple and fashionable that could be taken anywhere without being inconvenient to carry. Hugo and his team created the first backpack and portable electric vehicle. So the whole idea was to have a foldable light electric vehicle, not a skateboard.
What is the purpose of Movpak?
It’s designed to be the best companion for the urban commuter. Movpak will help the commuter to travel faster because it solves the first and last mile problem of having to walk to or from public transport. Unlike most foldable bikes, it is easy to fold and unfold. And if you run out of battery for your phone, you can charge it with Movpak up to 10 times.
Do you need to be an expert skater to use this vehicle?
Not at all. I’m not a skateboarder myself. Learning to ride a Movpak is actually much easier than all these board sports. First, because it has a motor with brakes, the Movpak doesn’t slide from under you when you get on. Second, you can press your foot and calf against the rear part of the backpack. This will give you extra support and stability. You can use your calf to make turns by just leaning forwards and backwards.
Who is this device aimed at?
It’s aimed at commuters who use public transportation or those who live up to five miles away from work. It’s also great for college students who need to run around a big campus and still be on time for class.
Fifty-four percent of households in New York City do not own a car and rely on public transportation. But public transportation is not perfect. How do you get to the subway station? This is called the last mile problem. The average commuter has to walk about four miles every day when commuting by public transport.
Research indicates that the most effective way to carry the largest number of people using the smallest urban space is through mass transportation. However, no city is perfect, and thus we encounter the last mile problem. It’s not about being lazy — a 10 or 15 minute walk from your home to public transport every day, followed by getting to your final destination via public transport can be draining. And if you’re in a rush… well, not everybody’s a born sprinter.
Isn’t the backpack too heavy to carry?
If you compare it to a regular backpack, then yes — it weighs 7.7 kg [17 pounds]. But we are talking about a portable electric vehicle that is almost 50 percent lighter than a regular bike or other portable vehicle. Also, we've added a really cool feature that allows you to roll the Movpak instead of wearing it, making it the perfect option for use inside buildings or even going through the hallways at your school or university. If you are going upstairs or downstairs then the straps will make your life much easier.
Is Movpak 100 percent safe?
Definitely! Just push the remote trigger backwards, and it will start braking. In fact, the brakes are regenerative, which means that you will be recharging your battery every time you brake.
— Daniel Casillas