As crowded city centers and congested main roads become more crowded and congested, a growing number of car manufacturers and transport companies are looking to develop compact last-mile solutions. Ford threw the commute conundrum over to its employees in the Last Mile Mobility Challenge, which returned over 600 ideas. Among the finalists is the Carr-E.
It might be small, but the Carr-E has an impressive set of capabilities. Designed by a systems engineer based in Cologne, Germany, it's able to carry people or objects weighing up to 120 kg (265 lb) at up to 18 km/h (11 mph). Range is limited to 22 km (13.7 mi), which should be more than enough to scoot from a car park to the office or train station.
Being able to carry humans is one thing, but the Carr-E also shines as a load-lugging device. Having piled it up with cargo, owners can slip a beacon into their pocket and start walking, at which point the circular little scooter will start following them.
Ultrasonic sensors on the front of the unit give it obstacle-avoidance capability, and there are functioning lights on the front and rear. There's even built-in GPS, although there's no word on what role it serves (perhaps so owners can track a stolen Carr-E, or for autonomous trundling between start and destination points).
"We really need to reinvent the wheel, to find new approaches to mobility," says designer Kilian Vas. "When developing the Carr-E, I was inspired by Ford's expansion into both an auto and a mobility company, but I'm also aware of how rapidly cities are growing and how getting around urban areas will become progressively more complicated. I really wanted to create a device that makes commuting easier and more fun."
Ford, or more specifically Kilian Vas, isn't alone in exploring the concept of car-integrated last-mile transport. Audi showed off a longboard that can be stored in the bumper of a Q3 SUV earlier this year, and the folding Peugeot Design eF01 bike can be docked in the boot of the 5008 SUV. All offer a unique take on modern urban mobility, but all are similar in their intentions.
Ford isn't the only company to encourage its employees to explore their creative side either. Today, Daimler announced a pop-up platform for creativity, where employees can sit down with a coach and flesh out any ideas they might have about the future of the brand.
Check out the Carr-E in the video below. It's up against an electric trike and a semi-autonomous electric wheelchair in the finals of the Last Mile Mobility Challenge. We're waiting for news on when the winner(s) will be announced, and if any of the designs will go on to production.
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