Mobile Robots Invade CES

Acton's RocketSkates and the INMOTION V3 unicycle are some examples of the mobile robots invading CES and making smart mobility personal.

Driverless cars aren’t the only form of futuristic mobility featured at the 2015 International CES.

Acton is debuting its motorized “smart” skates here after closing a successful Kickstarter campaign in July 2014. CTO Peter Treadway claims RocketSkates are a pioneering technology in the “wearable transportation” market.  “We’re not trying to get into some market. We’re creating the market,” Treadway said.

Each skate has two hub motors controlled by on-board microprocessor, and they’re powered by lithium-ion battery. When you’re ready for a ride, just strap on the skates, turn them on and you can cruise at up to 12 miles per hour. An iOS app allows a skater to track other skaters, monitor battery life, or upgrade to more challenging modes.

See photos of the RocketSkates

The initial RocketSkates experience requires some coordination. Skilled skaters know how to balance forward for speed, backward to break, take steady strides for a smooth glide and walk on their tippy toes.

RocketSkates currently come in three varieties with the cheapest model retailing for $499. The company has plans to release two more products in 2015.


INMOTION, featured in the Robotics Marketplace, also introduced its new speed machine for urban commuting: the V3 self-balancing, sensor controlled unicycle complete with voice prompts to keep you going. Inspired by race car designs, the machine looks like a lighter, sportier version of the Segway.

The INMOTION smartphone app allows you to lock the system to prevent others from driving it, operate the vehicle remotely, preset routes and customize its voice settings. The INMOTION vehicles also feature a detachable handle for increased portability. 

INMOTION has sold its flagship R1 model, featuring a top speed of about 9 miles per hour, in over 40 countries. The new V3 (retailing for $799) will be available later this year through INMOTION distributors and can travel at up to 11 miles per hour.

The V3 offers a more challenging ride; it requires that the user balance left to right with the vehicle-balancing sensors responding to front and backward motion. Speakers have been added to the design for riders who want to rock out while they roll as well as a smart headlight that switches on when the vehicle accelerates for night riders. With typical use, this vehicle’s battery will last through a 5-6 hour drive.

Whether these devices are a fad or a new movement for the urban touring market remains to be seen. In any case, they promise to make short-distance travel just a little more fun and futuristic as we all await the great transition into truly driverless travel.


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