OffBeat

Here’s Hyundai’s dorky vision for the future of personal transportation

hyundai-e4u

If Hyndai’s latest concept vehicle is the future of transportation, let me off this ride right now.

At this year’s Seoul Motor Show, the Korean automaker unveiled the E4U, a personal mobility vehicle that moves around using a rotating semisphere instead of wheels.

While the vehicle is clearly a concept and not an actual product (yet), its existence doesn’t bode particularly well for what Hyundai thinks personal transportation’s going to look like in the future.

EN-V_Pride

Above: If General Motors’s EN-V is any indication, the future of personal mobility will be self-driven.

Ignoring the goofy bumblebee-yellow paint job and the no-doubt confusing control scheme (which Hyundai compares to that of a helicopter), just take a look at that helmet. Any vehicle that requires riders to wear that sort of thing isn’t going get any traction. And that’s a fact.

The E4U isn’t the first personal mobility vehicle of its kind, however, as carmakers have been showing off similar things for a while now. Consider the Puma, an electric vehicle created by the geniuses at Segway (remember the Segway?), or the Hiroko, which is set to go into production later this year.

While all of these vehicles are variations on the same general design, they all seem to be created with the impression that personal mobility vehicles are going to be controlled by people and not, well, the vehicles themselves.

For better or worse, this is a future that Google is already working on with its self-driving cars, which have already gotten the green light in Nevada, Florida, and, most recently, California. But Google isn’t the only company going this route. Self-driving mechanisms are also built into General Motors’s EN-V, which the company unveiled in 2010.

Whatever the future of personal mobility looks like, let’s hope it’s not as goofy as the E4U.

Photo: Nikkei Automotive Technology