Tony O'Kane | May 26, 2008

Personal transportation of the future is an evergreen subject for artists, writers and designers. Jules Verne had the commuters of the future traveling in pneumatic tubes suspended high above Paris, while The Jetsons showcased the convenience of a collapsible hover-car. The teenage delinquents of Neo-Tokyo hooned around on hybrid-powered motorcycles in Akira, but despite the combined coolness of Shotaro Kaneda's sports bike and George Jetson's briefcase, they haven't got a patch on Jake Loniak's Deus Ex Machina future-cycle concept.

Loniak, a student at Art Centre Pasadena in the USA, created the Deus Ex Machina concept as part of a design study into environmentally-friendly motorcycles.

More of a garment than a motorcycle, the rider attaches him or herself to the Yamaha-branded Deus Ex by means of seven artificial vertebrae and a pneumatically-operated helmet. Power is provided by doped nano-phoshpate batteries hooked up to a series of ultra-capacitors which supply electricity to in-wheel motors, while lateral movement is accomplished by 36 pneumatic 'muscles' and two linear actuators. The batteries can be recharged in 15 minutes and on-road performance is expected to deliver a 120kph top speed and a 0-98kph sprint time of just three seconds.

When parked or cruising at low speed, the Deus Ex concept assumes an upright stance, with the rider also taking a standing position. However, when extreme acceleration is called for, the Deus Ex actuates its articulated arms and hunkers down, putting the rider into a more traditional motorcycle riding position.

It's all very cool and a novel approach to tackling the problem of environmental impact, but I can't help but feel that the Deus Ex Machina concept is just a bit too radical for this century. Besides, if it ever does make it to market Loniak might want to consider a name change - Australian-based company Deus Ex Machina already sell their own type of custom motorcycle, although their vintage focus puts their machines at the other end of the chronological scale to Loniak's design.

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