Next up on the Taiwan’s Got Talent Series, I interview talented Jing-Wen Jian of Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology, who along with fellow students Chong-Yue Chen and Nai-Wen Chang designed the U-Ride for their graduate project.
Looking like something out of a sleek design magazine with claims to provide riders plenty of freedom in the way they move, the U-Ride is a revolutionary 2-in-1 electric bike and segway, designed to meet the increasing demand for efficient shared public transport in urban cities. Much like Taipei’s current YouBike system, but with a smart and minimalist design, the U-Ride has the potential to play a big role in reducing traffic congestion without compromising convenience, allowing commuters to travel more freely and at an affordable price. Its segway mode is aimed for travelling back and forth at an easy pace – making it attractive to the visitor in search of indulgent sightseeing.
Anything that helps people to slow down but still get around without fuss and is also environmentally-friendly deserves some ovation, so it is no wonder that the U-Ride project was awarded a Young Pin Design Award in the product design category this year at the Young Designers Exhibition (YODEX), as part of the local events for World Capital Taipei 2016!
with Jing-Wen Jian – 22 Years Old
What did you envision for the U-Ride?
The U-Ride is an electric vehicle that could be used in two modes: You can sit on it as you would with a scooter, or, by unlocking the handle you can use it like a segway. We designed this to allow people to move about more freely. The two Touring or Roaming modes take on the ‘Move Free. Move Relax.’ concept. In the Roaming mode you can slow yourself down as well, allowing you to relax. The U-Ride in this mode is no where near as fast as other segways, reaching only 10km an hour. Apart from allowing the rider to relax, it is also useful in multiple situations. You can ride alongside with your friends in a park, for example.
What issues of public transport does the U-Ride aim to address?
Addressing traffic is a major factor in coming up with the idea for the U-Ride. The U-Ride can be used as a form of shared public transportation but unlike popular forms of public transport, the U-Ride is more personal and portable, much like a scooter. Taiwan’s current environment however, is especially inundated with motorcycles. We believe that there’s no need to buy them to get around anymore. From the tourism point of view, visitors can rent one, allowing them to move between sights freely, and in a relaxing way.
Is the U-Ride safe to be used in traffic?
I think we all have the experience of riding a segway or know how it works. Most of them don’t have handles. They’re fast, and can be dangerous. For most people, they’re like toys. We were thinking more from the perspective of transport for visitors – how would the U-Ride benefit them? The difference with our product design is that by including a handle, the feelings of safety is enhanced and it is easier to manoeuvre. And because we decreased the speed, it is rather slow, and therefore safer to ride.
(Video in Chinese)
Why the likes of the U-Ride is so important to Social Design
Shared transport and facilities not only address major issues of limited space and traffic in growing urban areas, but also enhance the general wellbeing of a community, creating greater access for people to get around and enhancing community interaction and cohesion.
In increasingly populated cities like Taipei, the need to minimise waste, be environmentally-friendly, as well as to connect more people to facilities is vital for an efficient and sustainable system. It is also cost-effective to provide social and community infrastructure and integrated transport. The likes of a minimalist yet flexible vehicle that not only has multiple uses but can be publicly shared is a logical solution.
On the psychological perspective, it is also increasingly important to take it easy in a modern and bustling city. Tourists won’t be the only people who could enjoy a slow and relaxed change of pace. And I could imagine only benefits in which the U-Ride would bring to people who are physically incapacitated; who are unable to walk distances but will not remain limited by accessibility to complete the activities they wish to do. The U-Ride then addresses both recreational and commuting factors as well as environmental and social factors which makes it, what I deem to be, a genuinely smart design that deserves backing and further development.
I hope to see more designs that aim to address social and practical issues such as the U-Ride, and wish these bright graduates a promising future!