Ford has a huge team of smart people coming up with new ideas for automotive design. They’re the people who are trying to figure out what we will be driving in that gleaming beacon that is the future. While you might imagine flying cars or autonomous cars, Ford is imagining unicycles.
They’re not ditching the car business, but adding to it with a unique patent that was filed with the US Patent and Trademark office for a car equipped with a rear wheel that morphs into a unicycle. Car companies patent all sorts of weird and wonky stuff in case it becomes the next big thing. This ensures they have dibs on new tech and doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll build eveything they patent.
The idea seems ridiculous. First, how many people know how to ride a unicycle? Beyond kids and circus performers, it’s probably a very small percentage of the population. Second, even if you can ride one, why would you want a car with a unicycle-capable rear wheel? Here’s where it starts to make a little sense.
Earlier this year, Ford unveiled the MoDe:Flex ebike prototype created by a team at their new Palo Alto Research and Innovation Center. This electric bike comes with its own smartwatch app that will help you plan your route to avoid congestion and accounts for weather and your personal fitness.
What makes the MoDe special is that it breaks down quickly to fit right into your trunk. Instead of having to drive all the way into a crowded downtown location, owners could choose to park just outside the city where parking is cheaper and more readily avialble, and then finish their commute by bike. This thing could really come in handy.
Now, back to the unicycle. It doesn’t sound so crazy when you think of it in the context of the MoDe electric bike. It has some advantages, too, by being a part of the car rather than something that has to be stored in the trunk taking up cargo space. As an added bonus, it’ll be tough to steal your car with only three tires.
According to Patent Yogi, the unicycle will be disengaged by a control within the car and an automated jack system will be deployed. It won’t be messy like changing a tire, but a quick process to send you on your way.
It’s just a patent and there’s no indication that Ford plans to build this tomorrow, but its existence shows that the MoDe bicycle isn’t the end of the story. Automakers are looking for ways to better integrate your car into your life and the unicycle is another step in that direction.
Looks like now might be a good time to sign up for clown school, just in case.