Although it’s the major automotive manufacturers and their no-expense-spared world premieres that dominate IAA, German company S-Walker is holding a somewhat smaller-scale world premiere for its S-Walker Board. Combining aspects of a Segway, a skateboard and a balance board, the two-wheeled electric vehicle is set to hit the streets in the not-too-distant future.
Akin to a balance board with wheels fixed at the center of the deck in place of a moving rocker, the S-Walker Board packs a gyroscope and, like the Segway, translates the forward or backward lean of the rider into movement of the wheels, so that the more you lean, the faster it goes. Weight needs to be placed on the two grip pads at either end of the board before it is activated, so it won’t go speeding off of its own accord. Steering is accomplished by pivoting the deck through shifting your body weight.
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The wheels are driven by two 250 W motors powered by a rechargeable lead acid battery that can carry a rider weighing up to 80 kg (176 lb) for up to 20 km (12.4 miles), depending on terrain and usage. Recharging takes around one hour. Although the board can easily reach speeds of 6 km/h (3.7 mph), S-Walker CEO Reiner Lang says that experienced riders could reach speeds of up to 10 km/h (6.2 mph).
I had a quick go on the board and after some initial stationary speed wobbles – if such a thing exists – I was able to cruise around at low speed. However, I’d need to put in some practice to feel comfortable, particularly when stopping. Another interested bystander jumped on the board after me and got to grips with the device much faster, suggesting some people will pick it up in no time.
As you can see in the image gallery, the models on display at IAA had holes for the screws on the top of the deck, but Lang says these will be covered in the production units. S-Walker won’t be selling the board direct to consumers, but Lang and his S-Walker team are at IAA looking for distributors to release the vehicle worldwide. He says they have already had a lot of interest and are hopeful of a release in various markets within the next year. The company is aiming for a price to the end consumer of €699 (US$930).
Here's a very brief video of the board in action.
Product page: S-Walker