Chang-Yu Pan

The Unio is agile and takes up less space than a bike. Unfortunately, it's still a unicycle.

When it comes to motorless vehicles for adults, there used to be a firm hierarchy of ridiculousness: Razor scooter < outdoor elliptical cycle < Segway. But now Chang-Yu Pan has come in and shaken everything up, with an electric unicycle that has, of all things, training wheels.

The Taiwanese designer created the "Unio" to see how a Segway-style gyroscope system would perform on a (sort of) one-wheeled vehicle. The answer: briefly. Because its frame can't support a big battery, the device has a short traveling distance of 6 to 9 miles with a top speed just under 10 mph.

However, in a recent design competition, Pan listed off its benefits: It is "more agile and slippery than a bicycle" ("slippery" presumably being good for avoiding obstacles). "We can significantly save the occupied parking area up to 50% compared to the bicycle," he writes, "and it is more friendly to the pedestrian when riding at crowded street."

Advancing on the "Unio" is a simple matter of leaning forward; lurching backward activates regenerative brakes. To turn left or right, lean those directions and "spin your arms," says the designer. But don't lean too much or you might fall. "Even after some Research, We still can't set the threshold of the lean angle," he says, advising riders to use their best judgment on safety.

When the battery putters out, or operators want exercise, they can propel the "Unio" with foot power. Who could ever conceive of a better conversation starter on the street—as long as you don't mind the conversation starting, "Do you need directions to the circus?"

Chang-Yu Pan
Chang-Yu Pan

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Coronavirus

    The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here

    The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.

  2. Perspective

    Coronavirus Reveals Transit’s True Mission

    Now more than ever, public transportation is not just about ridership. Buses, trains, and subways make urban civilization possible.

  3. Coronavirus

    The Coronavirus Class Divide in Cities

    Places like New York, Miami and Las Vegas have a higher share of the workforce in jobs with close proximity to others, putting them at greater Covid-19 risk.

  4. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  5. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

×