Hyundai unveils the future of personal mobility, because walking doesn’t cut it

Despite modern advancements in sneaker technology, walking remains a slow way to go. Running, however, achieves acceptable velocity, but even with a smoothie made by Lance Armstrong, we tire quickly. The Segway never truly caught on for those not on government payrolls and, let’s face it, skateboards went out of fashion shortly after the first "Back to the Future."

Hyundai decided it’s time to change all this, and at the Seoul Motor Show, its engineers unveiled a moveable egg concept that promises speeds faster than a Segway, and a strange helmet that makes you look far cooler than any skateboarder could ever dream.

The egg is entitled the E4U – standing for Egg, Evolution, Electricity and Eco-friendliness. The result of an annual invention contest among Hyundai engineers in South Korea, the odd-egg was designed as a potential future of personal mobility: It can travel up to speeds just shy of 20 mph, weighs 176 lbs. (sounds mobile to me), and boasts a 24V battery attached to a 500W electric motor.

The steering appears to be controlled somewhat akin to the Segway, with an abundance of tilting, pivoting, and other unnatural behaviors required to induce motion.

According to tech site Nikkei Tech-On, who witnessed a demonstration in Seoul, the E4U stands on semispherical balls. The driver (rider?) must tilt the egg to move, but it appears to be in a rather counterintuitive way: you move forward by putting weight on your left foot, backwards by transferring the weight to your right foot, and left and right by tilting backwards and forwards respectively. Tech-On mentioned the driver stated, “Without some practice, it does not move in the desired direction.”

Hyundai make a point of emphasizing the streamlined stance of the E4U, because, you know, aerodynamics play a large role at speeds as high as 18 mph. Perhaps the best feature is the helmet, however. It appears to be your regular bicycle helmet with a clear plastic screen draped over the driver’s face; presumably to prevent bug splatter while maximizing operator shame.

While I appreciate the sentiment in trying to make personal mobility easier, I can’t imagine nipping to the shops aboard an E4U; my legs may be inferior to the propulsion generated by the world’s largest egg, but the humility of wearing that helmet would be too much to bear. What was wrong with the bicycle, again?

Photo: Hyundai