You’ve probably come across foldable bikes for fitness-minded commuters, but how about a futuristic e-bike that literally inflates from a backpack? That’s the crazy, James Bond-style creation dreamed up by researchers at Japan’s University of Tokyo.
Currently existing in prototype form, Poimo (that’s POrtable and Inflatable MObility, obviously!) is made out of thermoplastic polyurethane and inflated with the aid of a small pump. It reportedly takes just one minute to inflate Poimo to its fully blown-up form, before the wearer/driver adds the remaining rigid components such as wheels, brushless motor, battery, and handlebars. Then they simply hop on, and they’re off to the races — or, at least, to the office. The creators have a short video on YouTube showing the Poimo in action.
Poimo’s inventors have already done some test drives in Tokyo and claim that their unusual invention is fun to drive. They believe it could be more cost-effective than other transportation types, while its potential for customization could also mark it out as appealing to customers.
Ryuma Niiyama, one of the brains behind the project, recently told IEEE Spectrum that, “we believe that our inflatable mobility, which is different from existing mobility systems and creates new relationships with people, will be useful as a one-mile mobility for the city in the future.”
Provided it all works as promised, it’s definitely easy to imagine this lightweight vehicular alternative appealing to hipster commuters in any city. We’d have to be convinced about Poimo’s range, steerability, and overall toughness, though. After all, it’s one thing to get a flat tire when you’re out riding on your bike. Its another thing entirely to get a flat bike when you’re out riding on your backpack. Nonetheless, color us intrigued.