Interview: Bimal Rajappan, designer of XOR Exoskeleton Rider personal mobility vehicle
Personal mobility is the future of our urban living habits and manufacturers are trying to cash-in on this concept by developing their versions of personal mobility vehicles. An Indian design student Bimal Rajappan has come up with a very convincing conceptualization of Segway-inspired personal mobility vehicle called XOR – Exoskeleton Rider that could certainly be the future of urban personal mobility. We got the chance to get an exclusive interview with Bimal Rajappan who has ingeniously designed his version of Personal Mobility Vehicle that is quite impressive. So here we have the inquisitive queries that came to our mind and Bimal’s reply to those queries.
DamnGeeky: Please could you tell us about your background?
Bimal Rajappan I am an Automobile engineer by Graduation. After that, I got to work with Royal Enfield in Chennai for around 1.5 years as a Design Engineer. I always wanted to be in a creative profession and interacting with the designers at RE helped me in choosing the right path for that. I went on to do Masters in Mobility and Vehicle Design from IDC, IIT Bombay. After graduating, I am working as a Designer at Hero Motocorp.
DamnGeeky: What is the key inspiration behind conceptualizing wearable personal mobility vehicle – XOR?
Bimal Rajappan ‘XOR – eXoskeleton Rider’ was my Final Year Project at IDC. I have always been a big fan of Personal Mobility Vehicles, but I wanted to approach it from a different angle. Mostly Personal Mobility Vehicles Designed and Launched by major Companies involved a person sitting inside a shell with wheels attached around it, which essentially makes it a smaller car. While doing the ideation for XOR, I wanted the Vehicle to behave like a part of the person rather than acting like a cage around him.
The Freedom of Movement and fun associated with Popular Sports like roller Skates, trikking, Skate boarding were used as a starting point for the Ideation Stage. It was fun to see the vehicle Evolve in the sketches.
DamnGeeky: Please explain the functionality of the XOR in detail?
Bimal Rajappan XOR can be divided into 2 major Parts – the upper unit and the lower unit. The Upper Unit comprises of the Helmet and the forearm mounted drive by wire unit and the lower unit has the wheels, the leg mounted unit and the Control Systems.
The Lower Unit is the driving unit which has a leg mounted mobility unit attached to the hubless wheel driven by a high performance electric motor. Electronic Gyroscopes balances the Vehicle and prevents the person from tipping over. The Leg unit is connected via active Dampers to the vehicle control unit through a set of Air/Pneumatic ‘Muscles’ .The Vehicle control unit houses the batteries and the control unit to keep the vehicle moving and stabilized. The upper Unit has the forearm mounted drive by unit. This Unit helps the person to control the acceleration and deceleration via hand controls.
DamnGeeky: How do you address stability and control issues in the XOR?
Bimal Rajappan Electronic Gyroscopes sense every motion of the Vehicle and adjusts the tilt angle and speed to prevent the vehicle from Tipping over. This is advantageous for first time users also, since the learning curve for this vehicle is almost nonexistent compared to any other form of sports like roller blading or skating.
DamnGeeky: What is the impact of current automotive designs on your project?
Bimal Rajappan This particular project took me to a different territory for inspiration- military technologies and the Movies. Movies like Iron man, Robocop, and exoskeleton concepts from the army and navy has greatly helped in making the project more real to life and believable than just being a concept.
DamnGeeky: How do you think the infinite online resources have influenced your project and profession?
Bimal Rajappan XOR would have been Impossible without the support of Internet and other people who helped through the various stages of development.
DamnGeeky: Dream project you would like to work on in the future?
Bimal Rajappan I envy and idolize the works of Daniel Simon. To men, he is living the dream of every vehicle Designer. Not only he is getting to design awesome stuff, but seeing them being made into real life models is a dream come true.
DamnGeeky: Any word on your upcoming projects?
Bimal Rajappan I am ideating on a road legal 2 seater race car similar to the ktm X bow. Hopefully that should be done in a couple of months.
DamnGeeky: What are you passionate about, apart from your work?
Bimal Rajappan I love Riding and miniature model making.
DamnGeeky: What’s the last thing on internet that made you say ‘wow’?
Bimal Rajappan Everyday you see something on the internet which justs blows your mind away. So much creativity and passion in people. Its amazing.
DamnGeeky: The latest gadget that you would love to own?
Bimal Rajappan The PS4 or maybe a quadracopter
DamnGeeky: Are you currently associated with any design studio or working independently?
Bimal Rajappan I am currently working with Hero MotoCorp as a Motorcycle/Scooter Designer.
DamnGeeky: Which is your favorite project?
Bimal Rajappan XOR definitely makes it to the top.
DamnGeeky: What is according to you is the future of automotive design?
Bimal Rajappan Frankly there hasn’t been a radical change in automobiles over the last 100 years. Its still a metal/Plastic Body with boring Interiors. Even they way we interact with these vehicles hasn’t changed much. I believe there needs to a completely different thinking in terms of How we interact with Vehicles, how we drive them around (Or should we drive at all ?) , how they are made, and how they are recycled. The Students coming from design schools are still sketching Cars and bikes and not thinking anything new. Even Concept Cars are so close to production Vehicles.
There are so many brilliant young and fresh minds, we surely can bring about a revolution.
DamnGeeky: Has any automotive manufacturer acknowledged your work?
Bimal Rajappan Not yet 😛
DamnGeeky: Your views on DamnGeeky, its design and coverage?
Bimal Rajappan DamnGeeky is doing a good work in covering innovations and creative ideas. Wish you all the best.