Featherweight Electric Vehicles
A mobility vision designed to strengthen cities,
help people, and heal the planet.
“Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world.”
– Nadeem Aslam
Consequences of Automobile-Centric Mobility
We spent the last century building around the automobile only to realize just how intimately mobility is tied to everything else. This hard lesson was brought home by the direct and indirect unintended consequences of cars:
- Global Warming
- Immoral Wars & Exploitation
- Resource Extraction
- Car Crash Deaths
- Immobility Related Diseases
- Air Pollution Related Disease And Deaths
- Local Economic Blight
- Urban Sprawl
Can we look at the world in a new light? Could we imagine mobility that not only does no harm, but actually strengthens people, enriches cities, and heals the planet?
What Might An
IDEAL MOBILITY SYSTEM LOOK LIKE?
• It would be phenomenally inexpensive, and thus accessible for almost any income level.
• It would also be accessible by those with physical constraints such as the elderly, folks with disabilities, and pregnant women.
It would create a fatality free mode of transportation that would be safe for even children and the elderly.
It would promote physical health by encouraging physical movement and removing pollutants from the air. It would also be great for the brain and would combat loneliness and alienation.
• It would decrease extractive economic activity in the form of car, insurance, gasoline purchases, keeping more dollars local.
• It would also unlock significant amount of premium real estate such as parking lots, gas stations.
• It would significantly decrease the cost and maintenance of infrastructure
Enhanced Quality of Life
• It would make cities cleaner, healthier, and even quieter. It would also increase the curbside appeal of the city, creating spaces that people want to live and spend time in.
• It would strengthen communities and bring the city closer together.
Blue Skies, Clean Streets
It would be extremely clean, without toxic gases polluting the air or oil dripping on the streets, which ends up in local streams and rivers.
For The Planet
It would be extremely efficient, requiring a fraction of the energy and powered by renewable sources. This would help significantly reduce the severity of climate change.
It would completely change geopolitics and reduce exploitative oil extraction and wars. It would also significantly reduce oil extraction and chances for oil leaks and catastrophic spills.
It would be extremely clean, without toxic gases polluting our air or oil dripping on streets, in our sewers, and oceans.
Launching Humanity Forward
A clean, ultra-efficient, economic, and fun mobility vision
for better people, cities, and planet.
FEATHERWEIGHT ELECTRIC VEHICLES
A New Class Of Vehicles Unrivaled In
Efficiency, Affordability, Accessibility,
Sustainability & Fun
A Touch Of Classic
Bikes let you ride with the wind in your hair and sun in your face.
Low price point. No car, gas, insurance, or registration payments.
They encourage physical activity as riders get from point A to point B.
A Dose Of Technology
Electric power assistance takes the sweat out of riding. Commuting to work can be all electric, while the ride back can be set to manual allowing the ride to double as gym-free, outdoor workout!
As awesome as they are, bike require a certain level of fitness. Electric assist lets anyone become a rider instantly, slow building physical endurance.
Electric power effectively flattens out even the most challenging of hills, making any city accessible.
With Incredible Variety
For inclement weather, there are FEV options with enclosures to protect passengers from the elements.
For the less able bodied there are FEVs that do not require much physical effort or any balancing ability.
For those constantly on the go or who don’t have access to storage, there are plenty of small, foldable, and portable FEV options.
Great Minds Think Alike
Left: Einstein on a bicycle
Below: Steve Jobs comparing bicycles and computers
“I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer.
Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list….That didn’t look so good, but then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle and a man on a bicycle blew the condor away.
That’s what a computer is to me: the computer is the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”
A SAFE INTEGRATED
For The Greenest Form Of Mobility
Why do featherweights require their own network?
Featherweights Are A New Class of Vehicle
“The point of cities is multiplicity of choice.” – Jane Jacobs
It’s not quite walking and it’s not quite driving.
Widespread featherweight adoption starts off with thinking about recognizing that featherweights should be considered a different class of vehicle and merely lumping them together with automobiles as traditional bike lanes do puts riders of featherweights in danger and de facto prioritizes legacy vehicles.
We Should Want Dedicated Infrastructure
“E-bikes may be the greenest form of transportation in human history. Why aren’t cities taking advantage?” – LA Times
Cars are the least efficient form of transportation and walking is the slowest, yet both these forms of transportation both have fully built and dedicated infrastructure.
In urban environments, featherweights are as fast as cars and are much more efficient than either car or foot, yet they don’t have any infrastructure suitable for their size, speed, and safety needs.
What Might A Featherweight Network Look Like?
Requirements For A Viable Featherweight Network
Social for Mass Adoption
Lanes must be wide enough for two people to be able to ride side by side, to make riding social. Imagine if walking or driving were restricted to single occupancy.
Wide Enough For Multi-Speed
Paths must be wide enough for featherweights going different speeds to be able to pass each other safely and easily, just like cars and pedestrian streets and sidewalks.
Protected Lanes for Safety
Most importantly, these lanes must be protected from cars. Just as sidewalks make walking safe, so must lanes in an featherweight network.
Lanes For A “Third Speed”
A lot faster than walking, a bit slower than driving, featherweight electric vehicles would do best with dedicated lanes.
These are different from traditional bike lanes in two ways:
- They are at least 3 featherweights wide, allowing for side by side riding plus a fast lane
- They are protected from legacy vehicle traffic
Featherweight Only Streets
All these images have the same number of people, just with different transportation modes, demonstrating how much space cars require.
Removing cars off the road is know to produce significant space gains. With so much extra room, we could get creative.
Featherweight only streets they would actually be much easier and less expensive than than Green Diamond Lanes. No time consuming engineering studies or expensive infrastructure installation would be needed for every single street. With a few signs, every other street could be converted to an FEV-only road.
To avoid the inconvenience of denying automobiles access, cars could have local access on featherweight-only streets driving under 10mph.
Slingshot Highways: The Urban Hyperloop
The featherweight highway is what gives Slingshot its name. With a beautiful, iconic shape inspired by the humble yet effective slingshot, Slingshot highways allows FEVs to zip above traffic, be protected from the elements, and travel for longer distances.
Just as Elon Musk’s Hyperloop proposes to connect major cities to each other, so would Slingshot highways connect major urban clusters together. Such a solution would be uniquely suited for many modern cities that are less dense and more sprawled such as Los Angeles, Germany, etc.
Designed like a gorgeous and exciting tech product,
instead of a just another public works project.
Designed For Emotional Impact
Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk were all obsessed with cutting edge technology and end to end design to deliver fantastic experiences, tell great stories, and spark the imagination.
Let’s learn from these masters and design a mobility vision that moves the soul as well as the body.
Aspirational, Not Guilt Laden
Too many efforts pushing us to “go green” use guilt to try to change our behavior.
Let’s turn this tired script on its head. Let’s craft engaging stories about featherweight vehicles that highlight their incredibly fun rides, their amazing functionalities, and their powerful potential to liberate…precisely as car companies do in ads.
Infrastructure With A Captivating Brand
Many iconic structures are born of simple shapes: the Great Pyramids, the Sidney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower. So let’s start with a beautiful yet simple form, selecting a shape that evokes forward and fast movement: the slingshot.
This approach equips our mobility vision with the capacity to become a memorable, icon brand that can grow into a symbol for forward thinking citizens and cities.
Designed Like An Exciting Tech Product
Slingshot As A Smart City Backbone
Building a featherweight superhighway system could provide the added benefit of helping upgrade a city. Possible additions could include an electric and storage and collection system, public WiFi, upgrade our streets to efficient LEDs install more EV charging ports, and increase our data network.
“The future is already here — it’s just
not very evenly distributed.”
– William Gibson
CAN FEATHERWEIGHTS HANDLE THE FUTURE?
How long must we wait for featherweights?
Actually, the future is already here!
There are dozens of great companies producing a wide range of exciting featherweight electric vehicles. They are ready for prime time, many of them on their 2nd and 3rd generations. Some of them even having graced the TED stage and the TED blog. Let’s give them their best shot at success!
Are featherweights up to the task?
Can they go the distance?
Cars are engineered for long distances. However, the average single trip distance in urban settings in the US is a mere 6 miles. The average total distance driven per day in urban settings is just 36.5 miles. Given real-world usage rates, featherweights can easily replace vehicles.
Are they fast enough?
Cars are engineered for speed. Unfortunately, most car usage occurs in urban settings where average speeds are only between 17-30 mph. The great irony is that for all their engineering, cars are essentially matched by featherweights when it comes to urban transportation speeds, as illustrated in the graphic below.
And paired with light rail and Slingshot highways, featherweights actually get higher consistent average speeds, beating cars at their own game.
Are they ready for increased urban density?
Not only are they ready, but they will help get cities there!
Cities are only going to get more and more populated. Therefore, to be viable in the future, personal mobility should facilitate density.
Featherweights have a much smaller physical footprint, so they take up much less space on the road and require very little room to for storage, freeing up much needed real estate.
Featherweights also uniquely leverage existing transportation systems and even have the power to create entire ecosystems of green and healthy transportation options. This multiplier effect in turn encourages more density, less car ownership, resulting in more public transportation usage, creating more walkable and livable cities.
MANY CITIES ARE ALREADY SEEING THE LIGHT
slow local access car lanes
350km of bike paths,
World’s largest bike
bike prioritized traffic lights
If cities are seeing the light then why such an ambitions plan?
Bikes Aren’t A Silver Bullet
We absolutely love bikes. However, they are not flexible enough for mass, planetary adoption. They have issues of weather, cargo, storage, accessibility, etc. Cities are building infrastructure tailored to bikes without considering the entire category of featherweights with their diverse requirement.
All Our Problems Are Crises
Pollution, global warming, obesity epidemic, social inequality, all our problems seem to be crises.
No Margin of Error
We have no more margins for new unintended consequences. So we need solutions that have a proven track record of positive impacts without hidden downsides.
No Time For Vaporware
We don’t have time to wait for technologies that may or may not prove themselves.
Alternatives Are Worse And Fast Approaching
Autonomous cars and flying cars will increase car use, exacerbating most of their negative impacts.
But The Real Question Should Be
WHY NOT AN AMBITIOUS PLAN?
The Benefits of 10x Improvement
As Astro Teller from Google X argues, attempting to make something 10 times better is actually easier than trying to make something 10 percent better. How?
First, 10x thinking allows us to reframe the problem, ask new questions, look to other industries for inspiration, and challenge industry dogma.
And second, 10x problem solving helps recruit best, most talented people and gets them excited to work on hard problems with large scale impact.
Hope For A Better Future!
“…audacious visions have the power to alter mind-states—to change assumptions of what is possible. When a nation permits itself to dream big, those dreams pervade its citizens’ ambitions.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Every day we hear the warnings of the end of times yet seem to do little about it. We can’t remain in this apathetic and hopeless state forever.
Such an ambitious plan gives people hope. It gives them something to get behind. And it will build a much better, healthier, more plesant, and sustainable world.
“Fiction often has a strange way
of becoming fact.”
– Walt Disney
It’s Time To
DREAMS A REALITY
Where have we seen featherweights before?
From hoverboards, to flying cars, to light cycles zipping along on a grid, we’ve seen many featherweights on the silver screen!
Movies let us dream. They allow us to explore realities that seem impossible.
Let’s get inspired by our dreams.
Let’s remember what we’ve imagined and build a future worthy of wonder.
Back To The Future
Let’s glide like it’s 2015
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Let’s shoot for the moon
Light Cycles & The Grid
Let’s build a featherweight frontier
THANKS FOR DREAMING WITH US
We are Have A Go
Our goal is to help people, cities, and the world by transitioning humanity to more green, healthy, affordable, and fun means of mobility.
Slingshot is a mobility plan that envisions a world transformed by featherweight electric vehicles.
Our first product will be a best of recommendation site to help excite and educate the world about featherweight electric vehicles and help users find the perfect featherweight for their needs.