Uber. Bike and scooter shares. And public transit. This trifecta seems like it covers every urban transportation need. But the truth is that each solution comes with its own flaws. Ubers clog the roads. Bikes can make you sweat. And especially during the COVID-19 era, sharing enclosed spaces with other people can feel scary.
In response to the current moment, the design firm NewDealDesign has revealed a compelling new concept in urban mobility that mixes all of these ideas into one package. It’s a small, open-aired vehicle called the Rolla. While the Rolla isn’t a functioning device planned for mass production, it’s a feasible, near-future idea that could solve some of our biggest pain points in traversing a city.
The Rolla is essentially an open-air, autonomous trolley, with standing room only. It’s an electric vehicle with a skateboard design, meaning all of the batteries and motors are in the bottom chassis. Rollas would run popular routes much like buses, cruising at somewhere between 8 and 12 miles per hour. They’d fit two to three people comfortably, and up to six with a real squeeze. You could hop on one to ride the public route, or commandeer it, like an Uber, to take you directly to your destination. The idea is that the Rolla is a highly flexible solution that could fill specific niches in a city-by-city context.