Motorised Skates, the Newest Urban Transport Device. Beep Beep!



Wile E Coyote rides again.

MAC might be getting around town on a pair of these instead of in his car…

As a child, the rocket-powered roller skate was firmly in the realms of cartoons and spoof sci-fi shows with the wearer nearly always meeting a messy end as he careens off the edge of some precipice or other; my particular favourite was when Wile E Coyote would splutter to a stop just over the edge of a cliff, pause for a moment before falling into the abyss.

Now a California-based alternative-transport startup, called Acton, has turned comic book fantasy into real life alternative transportation with the new electric-powered footwear for us mere mortals. The RocketSkates are the brainchild of Peter Treadway (that is his name; I am not making this up) who is the founder and chief technician of the company; they are designed to bridge the gap over for us urbanites when we are stuck with the too-far-to-walk-too-close-to-drive problem.

“In the late 1950’s, people were predicting things like flying cars, jet packs and rocket skates,” Treadway said. “Well, one down and two to go.” Obviously Mr Treadway does not read this blog as we have already featured three flying cars that are currently in or about to be in production. But it’s hard to pick fault with the inventor of something as cool as wearable transportation.

The RocketSkates that frankly resemble some lego model my sons may well build are not short on technical specs: each Skate has two large rubber wheels and each wheel is powered by a 50W brushless electric motor; the power source is a rear mounted li-ion battery with a 90-minute charge time. The Skates wirelessly communicate with each other to ensure that both skates maintain the same speed, which is estimated to be just about 20kph depending on the rider’s weight, which can be up to a maximum of 125kg, and the skates themselves weigh in at a tad of 3kg. Acton is planning three models: the R6 will travel six miles and run for about 45 minutes; the R8 can go for about 8 miles and 70 minutes; and the R10 at the top of the range with 10 miles and 90 minutes. Although there are still some production issues to be finalised, pricing has been set at US$499, US$599 and US$699 respectively.

L-R: the R6, R8 and R10. Image:

According to Acton’s press release, the operation could not be simpler – just push off and tilt the skate forward to engage the motor and backward to engage the brake. There is no mention on how to engage the parachute should you happen to go off the edge of the cliff though…

“The idea of being able to wear your transportation is something that’s been brewing in me for a long time,” said Treadway, who conceived the skates while working on his thesis seven years ago at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, which boasts alumni like Frank Stephenson, award-winning designer of the MINI Hatch, Franz von Holzhausen, who designed the Tesla Motor S, and the likes.

Treadway said, “I don’t like the idea of carrying things around. Wearing something makes so much more sense…I developed about 50 or 60 prototypes.” The skates comes with adjustable foot plates to accommodate almost any style of shoe. “And now we’ve finally got the product rolling, literally and figuratively.”

Acton is planning to manufacture the skates in China by the end of next month. The market for wearable mobility is new and difficult to forecast but, at last count, Acton had raised slightly more than US$300,000 via the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter; it took less than 24 hours for Acton to reach its initial goal of US$50,000.

Who knows, maybe Wile E Coyote chipped in!

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