Hyundai's E4U concept vehicle

Image is from the video that appears at the end of this blog post.

Hyundai recently unveiled its egg-shaped personal mobility concept vehicle, which has technology that is being compared to that in a helicopter, reports Darren Quick for Gizmag.

The E4U vehicle, which journalists are analogizing to the Segway, gets the “E” in its name from “egg, evolution and ecology,” as Tatsuhiko Hayashi writes for Tech-On! The E4U can actually be driven, and moved in any direction, with a motor that rotates in only one direction, Tech-On! notes.

Gizmag explains how the E4U is unique:

Hyundai’s egg-shaped vehicle sets itself apart by sitting atop a horizontally-spinning semisphere that is used for propulsion instead of wheels. The driver stands on a small platform and directs the vehicle by tilting it so that different sides of the semisphere contact the ground. Tech-On says this is similar to the way a helicopter works, with two rear wheels providing stability and friction to act like a helicopter’s tail rotor.

Tim Hornyak writes for CNET that the vehicle is designed with “what must be some of the stupidest headgear ever conceived.” Its “roof,” he writes, is a transparent helmet with a chinstrap for the driver to wear. But Gizmag takes a more charitable view of the design, although questioning why it needs to be so strong:

… [A]nother ‘interesting’ feature is the that the top of the vehicle can be removed and worn by the driver as an eye-catching helmet. This is dominated by a large clear visor that seems more fitting for higher speeds than the walking pace the concept is currently capable of.

Tech-On! writes that it takes some practice to control the direction the vehicle goes in. The driver needs to use his or her left foot to make the E4U go forward, and conversely, his or her right foot to cause it to go backward. And, to turn right and left, the driver has to tilt the hemispherical part forward and backward, respectively.

In a demonstration, the vehicle’s speed was, indeed, as slow as a man walking, Tech-On! reports. Hyundai, which debuted the E4U on March 28 at the Seoul Motor Show, began developing it in October 2012, Tech-On! notes.

Gizmag writes they will be interested to see where the concept goes from here. But CNET is more cynical, writing: “Somehow I don’t think we’ll be seeing these on the street anytime soon.”

You can see E4U in action here:

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