Skateboards are definitely a part of the urban landscape, but you know what else is? Stairs. Generally, the two don’t go together – when skateboarders reach a set of stairs, they typically have to pick up their board and carry it. London-based product designer Po-Chih Lai would like to see boarders be able to roll right on down those stairs, however, so he created a one-off skateboard that lets them do just that. It’s called the STAIR ROVER.
“The piece creates a groundbreaking form of sport which previously never existed and utilizes the hidden energy of our cities – stairs,” he states on his blog. “STAIR ROVER – the Stairboard is a product that relies on the other product – stairs, which are found easily within the human habitat, especially in cities.”
The current board is the eighth model that he has created. It has eight wheels, mounted two-per-side on a pair of trucks that pivot to follow the contours of the stairs. The flexible deck is made from maple and bamboo, the trucks and associated hardware are aluminum, while the wheels are rubber.
He explored other approaches in some of his earlier models, including trucks equipped with spinning sets of three wheels on each side, a traditional two-wheeled front truck combined with one big three-wheeler in the back, and a deck equipped with four sets of two-wheeled trucks, instead of the usual two.
An earlier STAIR ROVER experiment, which featured trucks with spinning sets of three wheels on each side
As you can see in the video below, the latest version of the STAIR ROVER is indeed able to descend stairs. It looks like the underside of the deck does receive a few scrapes, but skateboards are made to be abused, right?
Lai told Gizmag that his board has already received plenty of positive reactions from skaters and the press, and that several sports equipment companies have expressed an interest in it. He said that he definitely expects it to become commercially available in the near future. If you just have to see it now, however, the prototype is currently on display in London at the Royal College of Art’s Show RCA 2012.