The “RakuRo” walking-speed autonomous mobility device looks curiously like the WALL-E hoverchair, but it has a good reason to exist.
Every few years someone comes out with a device that reminds everyone of the hoverchairs from the film WALL-E. There’s a strong appeal to a certain subset of the population for a mobility solution that’ll get them from place-to-place without a car in an urban setting.
I would argue that we have two wonderful solutions to this problem: Public transit (busses, trains) and bicycles. While cities are still too focused on cars-as-mobility, a transition to more bike-and-bus friendly places is ongoing and hopefully not stymied by autonomous vehicles.
But those solutions don’t work for everyone. Enter ZMP’s “RakuRo” personal robot.
Mobility for the elderly is of great concern to the Japanese given that their population continues to age. Fukuoka, the sixth-largest city in Japan, is in the midst of trying to solve for this issue and other future social problems using a mix of urban planning and technology to create a “smart city.“
For about $900 a month a business can lease one of these autonomous units from ZMP to use on short trips. Because these operate at walking speeds, the dangers seem pretty low.
Bringing mobility to elderly citizens and getting them out of cars is a wonderful idea, though these devices are targeted at everyone, including younger adults and children. As the video above shows, though, it looks kind of ridiculous to be a non-elderly person in one of these.