Is the Future Electric Skateboards? This is MetroSnap
This year, more than any other, it has felt a bit like a wacky new automotive idea appears on the internet pretty much every day. Today’s little dosage comes courtesy of Rinspeed AG, in the form of the 2020 MetroSnap; the latest version of their Snap concept that appeared in 2017.
Just to make sure you’re up-to-date with your Rinspeed goodness – the Snap concept was the company’s first take on modular transportation. It basically featured an autonomous ‘skateboard’ that could be separated from whatever ‘pod’ sat on top of it. The first example was actually a taxi. The idea was that, instead of needing a whole new taxi to be made after years of service, you just separate the two halves and replace the one that needs replacing. Win.
That concept was then followed in 2018 by the MicroSNAP; a tiny version of Snap. With this concept, Rinspeed posed the idea that the skateboards could autonomously drive around town and pick up pods with different focus, depending on demand: need to get somewhere? Taxi pod. Need a delivery? Van pod. Need a doctor? Doctor pod. Good idea, no?
Despite those two concepts sounding pretty awesome, we’ve never actually seen the real thing appear anywhere. Now, however, they’re going third time lucky with the new MetroSnap.
Pretty much just a development on the MicroSNAP idea, the MetroSnap looks to make Rinspeed’s modular concept commercially viable because, by their own admission, “the systems also have to make economic sense in order to gain broad acceptance”.
That’s why MetroSnap focuses on skateboards that constantly drive around your town or city, quickly leaving pods in one place and then picking up another elsewhere … for example: it could drop off a snack shop pod outside your place of work and then go collect a post box pod from down the road. Smart.
The idea is quite simply that a few skateboards can autonomously and efficiently do the job of lots of vans or lorries … thus removing traffic and pollution … thus meaning we can keep our proper engines for a little bit longer (they didn’t say that bit). According to Rinspeed, the swapping of each pod will take “a matter of seconds – the vehicle is ready to go almost as quickly as a racecar after a pit stop”.
Interestingly, thanks to the batteries being stored half in the skateboard and half in each pod, the skateboards would never need to sit and recharge. Instead, the skateboards draw power from the attached pod whilst on the move. Rinspeed don’t mention where the pods are getting their power from … but you can imagine that, in a world that features endlessly busy autonomous skateboards whizzing around, there will be charging methods everywhere.
Pretty interesting concept, isn’t it? With companies like DPD as useless as they are and Yo! being way too far away from me at all times, I’m all for tech that brings both closer to me. What do you think of the concept? Let me know in the comments … go on, let’s have a chat!