China’s Car of the Future: Two-Wheeled, Electric, Autonomous Gyrocar

One Chinese engineer’s idea of the perfect car of the future hails back to a Ford prototype that never went into mass production, though it was popular enough to span a successful line of collectibles: the 1961 Gyron from Ford.
Gyrocar prototype designed by Chinese engineer Zhu Lingyun 6 photos
Photo: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg
Gyrocar prototype created by engineer engineer Zhu Lingyun, based on 1961 Ford GyronGyrocar prototype created by engineer engineer Zhu Lingyun, based on 1961 Ford GyronGyrocar prototype created by engineer engineer Zhu Lingyun, based on 1961 Ford GyronThe 1961 Ford GyronCollectible toy inspired by the 1961 Ford Gyron, which never went into production
The Gyron came about with the idea that there was a market for one-person vehicles, even if they could provide neither the speed or the stability of the regular passenger car. It was nothing short of a glorified, motorized bicycle, but it provided engineer Zhu Lingyun with what he believes is a winning idea: the future is electric. And two-wheeled. And autonomous, all at once.

Speaking with Bloomberg, Zhu stresses that the only obstacle he might encounter on his road to success is people’s skepticism. Come to think of it, most cars are only used by one person, so his prototype would be perfect in this sense. Add to the equation the fact that it’s electric and driverless, and you have the recipe for a hit. It would considerably improve traffic, cut down maintenance costs and be extremely convenient.

It’s been 5 years since Zhu first saw Ford’s Gyron and started working on the prototype he calls the 1703, which uses the same gyroscope technology already found in smartphones. He started his own company with angel investments and has gotten even more parties to share his ideal and pour cash into the project. The goal is to land another $30 million in investments to have the car produced; 2020 is the deadline set for it to go into mass-production.

I was told by a potential investor that I have zero chance to make the idea work,’’ Zhu tells the publication. “But I firmly believe this is the future of urban transportation because it is exquisite, energy-saving and easy to manage. I have to make it.’’

One investor stresses that it’s this precise exquisiteness that might make buyers reticent at first. Once that out of the way, the gyrocar should be a hit. It’s got all the feats and the looks to be just that: it can drive autonomously or can be controlled by computer, it’s small (3 meters long and 1 meter wide), it has no steering wheel or acceleration pedal, it has a battery with a range of 100 km, and it can carry just one person. Plus, it looks like something you see in sci-fi movies.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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