Personal Transportation Device Introduction

Following the invention of the Segway, the personal transporter innovation scene has boomed.  There are now available a huge number of devices available, in a range of formats.  Most of these devices are focused on being smaller and more utilitarian for the city commuter than any of the other options.  To list a few options (in no particular order):

For this project, I am building a personal transporter of my own with the aim of really trying to determine how useful such a device can be for a daily commuter.  I will be comparing the device that I build to a variety of other transportation alternatives and seeing how it compares.

The Commute

As I happen to reside on an island and work on a slightly larger island, my typical commute involves a number of stages.  First there is the Home to Ferry leg, this is approximately 9 miles and by car, at best pace, can be covered in about 25 minutes.  I also have the option of bus transportation, which requires a single change, that will get me to the ferry in approximately  45 minutes, at the mercy of stops and traffic.  Another option would be cycling, which I could manage in about 55 minutes.  Lastly walking would take an unreasonable 3 hours, roughly.

For this project, I’m ruling out the use of amphibious personal transport craft, mostly for the complexity and I really doubt I’d have any chance of improving on a 10 minute ferry ride.  So now I have the travel to work on the big island.  Typically I use a combination of buses, trains and walking  which takes about 45 minutes, assuming all of the connections align correctly.  If I were to drive it would be about a 9 mile journey and would take roughly 20 minutes in very favorable conditions.   Cycling would be about 8.5 miles, very flat, and achievable in about 45 minutes.  Walking would be another silly 2.5 hours.

Where am I aiming to improve?

I would be happy to cycle to and from work, it would be great exercise, however there are a couple of issues.  The first being that I sweat profusely when I even think about exercise, not because I’m out of shape or lazy, I just run hot and have very active sweat glands apparently.  So I’d rather not have to spend the whole day in a sweat puddle.  The other issue with cycling is the physical size of the bike, I would need to store it at work and the ferry limits the number of cycles per journey, so I might end up being delayed as a result.

One of the biggest areas I’m looking to improve is on the scheduling aspect of my commute.  If everything works well, my total commute can be as short as 80 minutes.  When it doesn’t, that time can easily double.  So primarily an improvement in the flexibility of my commute schedule is a primary goal.

What are the basic design criteria?

The following topics are all criteria that I will use in making the design decisions that will shape this project:

  • Safety
  • Ease of Use
  • Legality
  • Reliability
  • Utility
  • Size
  • Speed
  • Cost

I’ll address each item in a separate post, as this is getting a bit long.  Once I’ve looked at each item, along with any more I may have left out, I’ll put together a summary that will be the basis of my design.  From that point I’ll follow the process below to bring the project to fruition.

  1. Preliminary Design
  2. Component Selection & Validation
  3. Purchasing /Manufacturing/Assembly
  4. Preliminary Testing
  5. Debugging
  6. Final Testing

Look for more updates soon!


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