Brain Food: A New Experimental Vehicle Could Redefine Commuting

Nov 16, 2017

A Flagstaff inventor is rethinking commuter transportation with a new class of vehicle. David Calley has created the Planet Rider, essentially, a hybrid between an electric car and an electric bicycle, powered in part by human energy. 

The Planet Rider on a test drive near Flagstaff. It can be pedaled or powered by an internal motor.
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“The human power is critical for a few reasons, probably the most important which is because we get a chance to exercise every day. The electricity is sufficient for the speeds and the ranges that you need, but you can do all the range you want just pedaling—but essentially it is quite a different motor. The roots of it were in trying to understand how to make motors more efficient but also easier to make,” he says.

The Planet Rider looks like a futuristic recumbent bike or wheelchair. But as it speeds up, it changes shape, becoming lower to the ground, more aerodynamic and stable. It can even reach highway speeds.

“This vehicle will go from inside your house to inside your cubicle through the elevators, stairs, whatever you like, along bike paths, on freeways, on highways, back alleys, dirt paths, it’ll take any path—whatever’s the path you prefer whether it be because it’s prettier, it’s more fun, because it’s less stressful, because it’s the fastest, whatever technique you want,” he says.

Calley says the Planet Rider is still in the development stage, but hopes to have it on highways and dirt roads sometime next year.