Are motorized shoes the last-mile transport answer?

Less bulky than a skateboard and easier to transport than a bike, Treadways are a good personal mobility solution for covering longer than walking distances.

Are motorized shoes the last-mile transportation solution? Peter Treadway

Let's say you want to take public transportation to a meeting in the 'burbs, but your destination is about a mile away from the train station. Sure, you could call a cab, wait around for a bus, or break a sweat walking. But if you don't have the time to spare or don't want to wrangle with bus schedules that match up to train schedules, you might be tempted to scrap the whole plan and just drive.

That's the problem Treadways aim to solve.

Treadways are motorized shoe attachments that can be used as a last-mile transportation solution that you strap on where public transit drops you off. Designer Peter Treadway recently entered his personal mobility solution for the James Dyson Award (namesake of the famous vacuum cleaner reinventor), a competition for newly minted design engineers who have invented a product that solves a problem.

Less bulky than a skateboard and easier to transport than a bike, Treadways are ideal for covering longer walking distances. The advantage of motorized shoes over current portable transportation solutions such as scooters, Treadway says, is that you can easily carry Treadways with you and don't have to worry about locking them up or babysitting them all day. In fact, Treadway, who also designs a line of messenger bags, is working on a bag specifically designed to carry his motorized shoes.

Treadways are motorized shoes that strap over any flat shoe.
Treadways are motorized shoes that strap over any flat shoe. Peter Treadway

Treadways are still in prototype form and being refined, but the final product should weigh about 3-4 pounds per foot--about the weight of a heavy pair of boots. The current prototype straps to the user's shoes with lithium ion battery packs attached to the apparatus---a big advancement from earlier models in which a battery pack was strapped around the user's waist. Any flat shoe with a flat heel up to 1 inch should work.

Treadways have a 5-mile range and a top speed of 18 miles per hour. But the L.A.-based designer is counting on feedback to help him figure out where to set the maximum speed for his commercial product. Expect the shoes to top at 12 or 13 mph in the future.

For the moment, the handheld device is connected directly to apparatus. Treadway's next project is to make the device that controls the shoes wireless. And win the Dyson Design Award.

Here's a YouTube video on the design evolution of the Treadway:

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