Today’s Solutions: January 19, 2022

A growing urban challenge created by delivery vans is that, when they stop for deliveries in crowded cities, they tend to block lanes and cause traffic. One way to alleviate this problem is to replace delivery trucks with electric cargo bikes (aka trikes), which can fit on bike lanes and also help reduce air pollution.

To further promote the idea of using smaller delivery vehicles, engineers at Polestar, the Volvo-owned electric car brand, have designed a scooter-like vehicle that looks even simpler than a cargo bike. The three-wheeled vehicle, or “urban sled” as it’s called by its designers, is made out of lightweight aluminum. It can fit on a bike path and it is able to hold as much as 600 pounds.

The current prototype, which is part of a project called Re:Move, was designed in collaboration with designer Konstantin Grcic, the electric motorcycle startup Cake, and Hydro, a Norwegian company that makes low-carbon aluminum.

One of the main advantages the “urban sled” has over traditional cargo bikes is that it’s easier to maneuver.  “When you take a cargo bike and you go around the corner, if you’re carrying a lot of weight, it’s a bit hard to control,” said Chris Staunton, director of design engineering at Polestar. “Whereas what we’re doing here is using the engineering and the suspension and chassis design to be able to control how we move and how the vehicle moves. And by using an electric powertrain, you take a lot of effort away from the operator.”

While there are no immediate plans to bring the new vehicle to market, the idea is to create a fully-functioning prototype in the near future to showcase the feasibility of the design.

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