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Title:
COMPACTIBLE SCOOTER WITH TENSIONED BODY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/032545
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Foldable electrical vehicles and related charging infrastructure are described. The foldable electrical vehicle generally includes three structural members (front and rear wheel-bearing structural members and a seat-bearing structural member) that are pivotally interconnected along their lengths such that they may be pivoted between a closed position wherein the three structural members are disposed roughly parallel to each other in a compact folded configuration, and an open riding configuration wherein an angular relation is formed between the structural members.

Inventors:
ETZELSBERGER, Sven (54 W. Green Street #100, Pasadena, CA, 91105, US)
DELGATTY, Grant (54 W. Green Street #100, Pasadena, CA, 91105, US)
LEE, Peter (54 W. Green Street #100, Pasadena, CA, 91105, US)
Application Number:
US2018/045551
Publication Date:
February 14, 2019
Filing Date:
August 07, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
URBAN626, LLC (54 W. Green Street #100, Pasadena, CA, 91105, US)
International Classes:
B62K15/00; B62D31/00; B62K13/00
Foreign References:
US4202561A1980-05-13
US20150068828A12015-03-12
US20180022412A12018-01-25
Other References:
"Urb-E Sport GT", 28 June 2017 (2017-06-28), Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20180210]
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PECK, John W. (KPPB LLP, 2190 S. Towne Centre Place Suite 30, Anaheim CA, 92806, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1 . A vehicle comprising:

a front wheel-bearing structural member and a rear wheel-bearing structural member each having first and second ends and each defining a wheel-bearing structural member longitudinal axis, each of said wheelbearing structural members having at least one wheel assembly interconnected to the second end thereof and two wheel-bearing structural member pivot interconnections disposed along the length thereof;

at least one seat-bearing structural member having first and second ends and defining a seat-bearing structural member longitudinal axis, the seat-bearing structural member having a seating platform interconnected to the second end thereof and at least two seat-bearing pivot interconnections disposed along the length thereof; wherein at least one of the wheel-bearing structural member pivot interconnections of each of the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members are pivotably interconnected together, and wherein at least one of the wheel-bearing structural member pivot interconnections of each of the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members are pivotably interconnected with the seat-bearing pivot interconnections, and wherein the collective pivot interconnections are configured to cooperatively form a vehicle pivot mechanism such that the structural members are movable between at least two configurations:

a riding configuration wherein the longitudinal axes of the two wheel bearing structural members and the seat-bearing structural members have angular offsets relative to each other, and

a folded configuration wherein the longitudinal axes of the two wheel-bearing structural members and the seat-bearing structural member are roughly parallel to each other; and

wherein a first support wire is interconnected between the seat-bearing structural member and the front wheel-bearing structural member, and a second support wire is interconnected between the rear and front wheel-bearing structural members, the first and second support wires being under tension in the riding configuration and slack in the folded configuration.

2. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein a steering mechanism is mounted to a front wheel- bearing structural member, the steering mechanism being configured to controllably pivot the wheel assembly mounted to the front wheel-bearing structural member about the longitudinal axis of the front wheel-bearing structural member.

3. The vehicle of claim 2, wherein the front wheel is locked in a non-pivoting configuration relative the longitudinal axis of the front wheel-bearing structural member in the folded configuration.

4. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein a portion of the front wheel-bearing structural member pivots with the wheel assembly.

5. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein at least a portion of the front wheel-bearing structural member has an energy storage device disposed thereon.

6. The vehicle of claim 5, wherein the energy storage device is removable from the vehicle.

7. The vehicle of claim 2, wherein the steering mechanism comprises at least one handlebar, and wherein the height and angle of the handlebar relative to the vehicle is adjustable.

8. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein the front wheel-bearing structural member is tubular.

9. The vehicle of claim 1 , further comprising a pivot locking mechanism configured to disengageably lock the structural members in at least the folded configuration.

10. The vehicle of claim 9, wherein the pivot locking mechanism comprises a latch disposed on the seat-bearing member and configured to engage one of the at least two wheel-bearing structural members.

1 1 . The vehicle of claim 10, wherein the latch is configured to engage a portion of the rear wheel-bearing structural member.

12. The vehicle of claim 10, wherein the latch is configured to disengage when the seat-bearing structural member is pivoted upward when in the second compacted configuration.

13. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein the rear wheel assembly comprises at least two wheels interconnected via a fixed axle.

14. The vehicle of claim 1 , further comprising at least one electric motor disposed within at least one of the wheel assemblies and an energy storage device interconnected therewith.

15. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein in the folded configuration the seating platform is disposed above the first ends of the wheel-bearing structural members.

16. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein the rear wheel-bearing structural member and the seat-bearing structural member are pivotably interconnected through a linkage member.

17. The vehicle of claim 16, wherein the linkage member is interconnected to pivot interconnections on the seat-bearing structural member and rear wheel-bearing structural member along the length of each structural member between the first and second ends thereof.

18. The vehicle of claim 17, wherein the seat-bearing structural member and the front wheel-bearing structural member are interconnected through pivot interconnections disposed on the first end of the seat-bearing structural member and along the length of the front wheel-bearing structural member between the first and second ends thereof.

19. The vehicle of claim 18, wherein the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members are interconnected through pivot interconnections disposed proximal to the first ends of each of the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members.

20. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein at least one of the wheel-bearing structural members comprises a plurality of fenestrations configured to provide access to the internal volume thereof.

Description:
COMPAC71BLE SCOOTER WITH TEUSIQUEO BODY

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The current disclosure is directed to compact, foldable electric vehicles.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] A common difficulty encountered in public transport is in trying to move people from a transportation hub, like a railway station, bus stop, etc. to their desired destination, or from their origination point to a transport hub. These problems are referred to as the 'last mile' or 'first mile' problem, respectively. Where the population of a place is not dense, like in areas where there are extensive suburbs and exurbs, this difficulty can become chronic making public transport impractical. A number of solutions have been proposed to overcome this problem, including community transportation such as feeder transport and ride or car sharing programs, however, these methods require a social infrastructure that is often either not available or not extensive enough to meet commuter needs. Other solutions involve various forms of portable transport, such as bicycles. Most of these personal forms of transportation are relatively bulky and present challenges in storage at both ends of the commute, as well as transport within most public transport systems.

[0003] Accordingly, a need exists for personal transport devices and infrastructure capable of addressing the 'last mile'/'first mile' challenge.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The application is directed to portable electric vehicles and infrastructure for portable electric vehicles.

[0005] Many embodiments are directed to a foldable vehicle including:

• a front wheel-bearing structural member and a rear wheel-bearing structural member each having first and second ends and each defining a wheel-bearing structural member longitudinal axis, each of said wheelbearing structural members having at least one wheel assembly interconnected to the second end thereof and two wheel-bearing structural member pivot interconnections disposed along the length thereof;

• at least one seat-bearing structural member having first and second ends and defining a seat-bearing structural member longitudinal axis, the seat-bearing structural member having a seating platform interconnected to the second end thereof and at least two seat-bearing pivot interconnections disposed along the length thereof;

• wherein at least one of the wheel-bearing structural member pivot interconnections of each of the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members are pivotably interconnected together, and wherein at least one of the wheel-bearing structural member pivot interconnections of each of the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members are pivotably interconnected with the seat-bearing pivot interconnections, and wherein the collective pivot interconnections are configured to cooperatively form a vehicle pivot mechanism such that the structural members are movable between at least two configurations:

o a riding configuration wherein the longitudinal axes of the two wheel bearing structural members and the seat-bearing structural members have angular offsets relative to each other, and

o a folded configuration wherein the longitudinal axes of the two wheel- bearing structural members and the seat-bearing structural member are roughly parallel to each other; and

• wherein a first support wire is interconnected between the seat-bearing structural member and the front wheel-bearing structural member, and a second support wire is interconnected between the rear and front wheel- bearing structural members, the first and second support wires being under tension in the riding configuration and slack in the folded configuration. [0006] In other embodiments a steering mechanism is mounted to a front wheel- bearing structural member, the steering mechanism being configured to controllably pivot the wheel assembly mounted to the front wheel-bearing structural member about the longitudinal axis of the front wheel-bearing structural member.

[0007] In still other embodiments the front wheel is locked in a non-pivoting configuration relative the longitudinal axis of the front wheel-bearing structural member in the folded configuration.

[0008] In yet other embodiments a portion of the front wheel-bearing structural member pivots with the wheel assembly.

[0009] In still yet other embodiments at least a portion of the front wheel-bearing structural member has an energy storage device disposed thereon.

[0010] In still yet other embodiments the energy storage device is removable from the vehicle.

[0011] In still yet other embodiments the steering mechanism comprises at least one handlebar, and wherein the height and angle of the handlebar relative to the vehicle is adjustable.

[0012] In still yet other embodiments the front wheel-bearing structural member is tubular.

[0013] In still yet other embodiments the vehicle further includes a pivot locking mechanism configured to disengageably lock the structural members in at least the folded configuration.

[0014] In still yet other embodiments the pivot locking mechanism comprises a latch disposed on the seat-bearing member and configured to engage one of the at least two wheel-bearing structural members.

[0015] In still yet other embodiments the latch is configured to engage a portion of the rear wheel-bearing structural member.

[0016] In still yet other embodiments the latch is configured to disengage when the seat-bearing structural member is pivoted upward when in the second compacted configuration. [0017] In still yet other embodiments the rear wheel assembly comprises at least two wheels interconnected via a fixed axle.

[0018] In still yet other embodiments the vehicle further includes at least one electric motor disposed within at least one of the wheel assemblies and an energy storage device interconnected therewith.

[0019] In still yet other embodiments in the folded configuration the seating platform is disposed above the first ends of the wheel-bearing structural members.

[0020] In still yet other embodiments the rear wheel-bearing structural member and the seat-bearing structural member are pivotably interconnected through a linkage member.

[0021] In still yet other embodiments the linkage member is interconnected to pivot interconnections on the seat-bearing structural member and rear wheel-bearing structural member along the length of each structural member between the first and second ends thereof.

[0022] In still yet other embodiments the seat-bearing structural member and the front wheel-bearing structural member are interconnected through pivot interconnections disposed on the first end of the seat-bearing structural member and along the length of the front wheel-bearing structural member between the first and second ends thereof.

[0023] In still yet other embodiments the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members are interconnected through pivot interconnections disposed proximal to the first ends of each of the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members.

[0024] In still yet other embodiments at least one of the wheel-bearing structural members comprises a plurality of fenestrations configured to provide access to the internal volume thereof.

[0025] In still yet other embodiments at least one of the wheel-bearing structural members comprises a plurality of fenestrations configured to provide access to the internal volume thereof.

[0026] In still yet other embodiments, the foldable vehicle includes an electronics interconnection disposed thereon, the electronics interconnection in signal communication with at least one sensor configured to deliver information on at least one vehicle parameter and deliver information from the at least one sensor to the personal electronic device. In some such embodiments, the at least one vehicle parameter is selected from the group consisting of vehicle speed, energy consumption, energy reserve, mileage, and direction.

[0027] Additional embodiments and features are set forth in part in the description that follows, and in part will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the specification or may be learned by the practice of the disclosure. A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the present disclosure may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the specification and the drawings, which forms a part of this disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] The description will be more fully understood with reference to the following figures, which are presented as exemplary embodiments of the invention and should not be construed as a complete recitation of the scope of the invention, wherein:

[0029] FIGs. 1 a to 1 c provide views of a foldable electric vehicle in an open riding configuration in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0030] FIGs. 2a and 2b provide views of a foldable electric vehicle in a compacted configuration in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0031] FIGs. 3a and 3b provide detailed views of a tension cable of a foldable electric vehicle in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0032] FIG. 4 provides a detailed view of a tension cable of a foldable electric vehicle having an internal battery in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0033] FIG. 5 provides a detailed view of a tension cable of a foldable electric vehicle having an external battery in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0034] Turning now to the drawings, foldable electric vehicles are described. In many embodiments, the foldable electric vehicle generally comprises a plurality of structural members all cooperatively moveable between a folded position wherein the structural members are in a compact configuration suitable for storing and transporting the vehicle, and an open position wherein the structural members are in a riding configuration suitable for the operation of the vehicle. In many such embodiments, the pivotable structural members may have disposed thereon wheels, motors, charge storage devices, power distribution and control circuits, motor and vehicle controls and instruments, accessories and all other necessary devices and structures for the operation of the vehicle.

[0035] In some embodiments, the vehicle comprises two wheel-bearing structural members (front and rear structural members), and a seat structural member that are all pivotally interconnected along their lengths such that they may be moved between a closed position wherein the three structural members are disposed roughly parallel to each other in a compact folded configuration, and an open riding configuration wherein a downward acute angle is formed between the two structural wheel-bearing structural members, and the seat structural member is disposed in a position to support a rider atop the vehicle.

[0036] In many embodiments, a plurality of pivot points exist between the three structural members. In various embodiments each of the structural members includes at least two pivot points, one on each member to interconnect the member to the other members. In some embodiments the front and rear structural members are pivotably interconnected each at or near an end thereof distal to the wheels, and also pivotably interconnected each to the seat member at a point along their length, to form an overall 'A-frame' configuration for the vehicle when in the riding position. In some embodiments the seat member is attached to the front wheel member at an end thereof distal to the seat, and is attached to the rear wheel at a point along its length between the front member pivot point and the seat. In some such embodiments the pivot interconnection between the rear structural member and the seat member includes an elongated bracket such that movement of the members is linked. In other embodiments the seat arm includes a locking mechanism, such as, for example, a latch arm that engages against the end of the rear structural member distal to the rear wheel such that the vehicle is locked into the folded configuration. [0037] In various embodiments the seat and rear structural members are also interconnected with the front structural member through a pair of high strength tension cable configured to increase the structural integrity of the frame of the vehicle. In many such embodiments the cable between the seat and front structural members is connected through brackets disposed at a first end of the structural members distal from the wheels. In many other such embodiments the cable between the rear and front structural members is connected through brackets disposed at a second end of the structural members proximal to the wheels.

[0038] In many other embodiments one of the structural members is configured to enclose a power source, such as, for example, a battery or plurality of batteries. In many embodiments this power source enclosing structural member is disposed as the front structural member of the vehicle, and bears the front wheel thereof. In alternative embodiments the power source may be located in a separate enclosure attached to one or more of the structural members.

[0039] In many embodiments, the pivotable second wheel-bearing structural member includes one or more rear wheels at the distal end thereof. It will be understood that the rear wheel assembly may include a single wheel or multiple wheels interconnected via an axle.

[0040] In various embodiments, the front wheel-bearing structural member comprises a pivotable portion proximal to the wheel that is pivotably interconnected to a steering mechanism disposed at the end of the front wheel-bearing structural member distal from the wheel. In some such embodiments the steering mechanism comprises at least a handlebar of any suitable design. In some embodiments the front wheel-bearing structural member is a hollow volume, wherein at least the pivotable portion of the member forms a volume into which an energy storage device is disposed.

[0041] The folding mechanism of the vehicle, in many embodiments, interconnects the three structural members of the vehicle in a configuration that allows the disengagement of the riding position and the folding of the structural members of the vehicle via the manipulation of one of the structural members of the vehicle. In some such embodiments, the folding mechanism is disengaged by manipulating the seat bearing structural member of the vehicle. In other embodiments a locking mechanism is provided to prevent the unfolding of the vehicle once in a compact configuration absent the disengagement of the lock. In various such embodiments the latch mechanism engages the top of the rear wheel bearing member when in a compact configuration thereby preventing the members from pivoting relative to one another.

[0042] As shown in FIGs. 1 a to 1 c, in many embodiments a foldable vehicle is provided comprising at least three structural members: a front wheel-bearing structural member (12) having disposed at the distal end thereon at least a front wheel assembly (13), a rear wheel-bearing structural member (14) having disposed at the distal end thereon at least a rear wheel assembly (15), and a seat-bearing structural member (16) for supporting a rider while operating the vehicle. In addition, the stability of the vehicle frame is strengthened by one or more tension wires (17 & 17') that are interconnected between the seat and front structural members, and the front and rear structural members. These structural members are pivotally connected each to the other through one or a plurality of pivot points (18, 19, 20 and 21 ) that allow movement of the structural members from an open riding configuration, shown in the embodiments shown in FIGs. 1 a to 1 c, to a folded compact configuration, shown in the embodiments shown in FIGs. 2a and 2b.

[0043] As shown, in FIG. 1 a, the relative arrangement of the structural members of the vehicle in these configurations may be defined by the axial arrangement of the structural members relative to each other, wherein each structural member is defined by an axis (22, 23 and 24). In some embodiments in the open riding configuration the front and rear structural members (12 & 14) are positioned such that a downward acute angle (26) is created between the axes (23 & 24) of the two wheel-bearing structural members. Although a particular angular arrangement is provided in FIGs. 1 a and 1 b, it should be understood that any angle suitable to form a usable riding configuration may be formed depending on the specific arrangement and geometry of the wheels and structural members desired. For example, a suitable angle may be determined by factors such as the distance between the wheels of the vehicle, the height of the seat to the ground, etc. [0044] In addition, in some embodiments of this open riding configuration the seat- bearing structural member (16) is pivoted such that its axis (24) is disposed at an angle relative to the ground such that a riding platform (28) is formed on which a rider may be seated to operate the vehicle. As shown in FIG. 1 a, in some embodiments the riding platform (28) may be configured such that its axis is roughly parallel to the ground. In other embodiments adjustment mechanisms may be provided to adjust the position of the riding platform relative to the wheel-bearing structural members as desired by the rider. In such embodiments adjustments might include height relative to the ground, distance relative to the handlebars (29), angle relative to the pivot points (19 & 21 ), etc. Although one embodiment of a riding platform (28) comprising a bicycle-style seat is shown in the figures, it will be understood that the riding platform may take any form, style or shape suitable to support a rider.

[0045] In various embodiments, the frame of the vehicle is provided greater structural stability through one or a pair of tension wires (17 and 17') that are connected, for example, at the top and bottom of the vehicle frame. Where the top wire (17) is attached between the ends of the seat (16) and front (12) structural members disposed distal the wheel assemblies (13 & 15). Where the bottom wire (17') is attached between the ends of the rear (14) and front (12) structural members disposed proximal the wheel assemblies (13 & 15).

[0046] As shown in FIGs. 2a and 2b, in many embodiments, in the compact folded configuration the front, rear and seat structural members (12, 14 & 16) are all pivoted such that their axes (22, 23 & 24) are disposed roughly parallel to each other. In some embodiments of the vehicle, such as the one shown in FIG. 2a, the axes (22, 23 & 24) of the structural members are disposed parallel one to the other, and the structural members (12, 14 & 16) themselves are moved into a configuration in which they are positioned adjacent to one another. In one such embodiment, the pivoting of the structural members comprises a scissoring motion about the pivot points such that the ends of each of the structural members distal to the wheel assemblies come together to face in a single direction, again as shown in FIG. 2a, for example. In some such embodiments, the seat (28) disposed on the seat-bearing element is positioned upward above the ends of the wheel-bearing structural elements distal from the wheels. In such embodiments, the tension wires 17 & 17' are folded between the structural members, as shown in FIG. 2a, for example.

[0047] Additional views of the vehicle of FIGs. 1 a and 2a, in open and closed positions, are provided in FIGs. 1 b (front-side view) and 1 c (rear-side view), and 2b (rear view).

[0048] Although the above description and the embodiments of the vehicle shown in FIGs. 1 a and 2a, describe an electric vehicle having a two-wheel configuration (in which the front wheel assembly (13) comprises a single wheel and the rear wheel assembly (15) comprises a single wheel), it will be understood that other wheel configurations may be provided that have considerably the same elements and operate in a manner commensurate to that described above. For example, the vehicle may have a three wheel configuration (in which the rear wheel assembly comprises a pair of double wheels), or the vehicle may have a four-wheel configuration (in which the rear wheel assembly has a single main wheel and a pair of convertible or foldable wheels that may extend on either side of the main wheel to provide additional stability.

[0049] Turning now to the detailed construction of the vehicle, several of the elements comprising the vehicle will be described, including the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members, and the seat-bearing structural member and all attendant structures and accessories. Examining first the front wheel-bearing structural member, FIGs. 1 a and 1 b provide illustrations of embodiments of the vehicle (10) and the front wheel-bearing structural member (12). As shown, in many embodiments the vehicle (10) comprises a front wheel-bearing structural member (12) having at least one front wheel assembly (13) mounted thereto, and a steering mechanism, such as a handlebar or other suitable structure (29) interconnected therewith. In some such embodiments, the steering mechanism (29) can be used to alter the orientation of the front wheel assembly (13) relative to the vehicle, and thus to steer the vehicle when in the open/riding position (FIGs. 1 a to 1 c), and to maneuver the vehicle when in the closed/compact position (FIGs. 2a and 2b). Although in the embodiments shown, only the wheel pivots while the remaining front structural member is fixedly attached, in other embodiments the entire front structural member or some portion thereof could be pivotable relative to the remaining vehicle structure through a pivotable interconnect. Regardless, in many embodiments the steering mechanism may be interconnected relative to the wheel assembly and front wheel-bearing structural member such that the orientation of at least the front wheel relative to the remainder of the vehicle may be altered.

[0050] Although a specific "T'-shaped handlebar steering mechanism (29) is shown in the figures, it will be understood that the steering mechanism may be of any shape suitable and dimension such that a rider may use the mechanism to alter the directional motion of the vehicle. For example, a "U"-shaped handle bar steering mechanism may be contemplated. In addition, in some embodiments the height of the steering mechanism may also be adjustable, such as, for example, via a telescoping mechanism, for convenience and comfort of use, and in some embodiments to allow the steering mechanism to be collapsed for storage such that the height of the handle bars do not extend above the height of the remainder of the vehicle. In embodiments, the steering mechanism may have handles that extend out from the sides of framework, such as in a "T" configuration the handle extensions may retract or fold into a more compact form.

[0051] Although not shown, in various embodiments the steering mechanism (29) may be pivoted between an open position in which the axis of the steering mechanism is angled away from the axis (23) of the front wheel-bearing structural member (12), and a closed compacted position, in which the axis of the steering mechanism is aligned along the vertical axis of the front wheel-bearing structural member. In many embodiments, it may be desirable to prevent motion of the front wheel assembly relative to the vehicle in the compact folded or closed position, i.e., to lock the orientation of the wheel relative to the vehicle. In such embodiments a wheel locking mechanism may be provided to prevent the wheel and/or wheel assembly (13) from changing orientation relative to the vehicle in such a folded closed configuration. Although any suitable wheel locking mechanism may be provided, in the embodiments shown the pivotable portion of the front wheel bearing member may be pressed against a portion of the rear wheel bearing member (14) such that it cannot pivot relative thereto when in the compacted configuration. Although not shown some embodiments a tab or other element may also be provided on the pivotable portion of the wheel or wheel assembly such that in the close folded configuration the tab engages the adjacent rear wheelbea ng assembly or other immobile portion of the vehicle to prevent independent motion of the wheel or wheel assembly, and thereby a change in the orientation of the wheel and/or wheel assembly relative to the vehicle.

[0052] Turning now to the construction of the front wheel-bearing assembly (12), as shown in FIG. 1 a, in many embodiments the front wheel-bearing structural member is formed of an elongated body that may be made hollow such that the body defines an interior volume. The structural member may be formed from any material suitable to provide sufficient structural support to the vehicle, such as, for example, a metal, composite, or polymer. In many embodiments, the front wheel-bearing structural member (12) may include fenestrations (50) along the elongated body. The structural member may also comprise any suitable cross-section, such as, for example, tubular (as shown), square, etc.

[0053] In many embodiments, as shown in FIG. 1 b for example, the front wheel- bearing structural member (18) may further comprise a pair of pivot hinge brackets (32 disposed along its length and configured such that the front main pivot hinge brackets may be cooperatively coupled with the main pivot hinge brackets provided on the rear wheel-bearing structural member (19) and the seat-bearing structural member (16) to form the vehicle pivot mechanism to allow the front wheel-bearing structural member (12) to pivot relative to the other structural members (14 and 16) that form the structure of the vehicle. Such a seat-bearing structural member may also comprise a hollow portion (36) configured and disposed to allow a portion of the rear wheel-bearing structural member to fold therein when the vehicle is moved into the compact or folded configuration.

[0054] The front wheel-bearing structural member may also comprise certain accessories (not shown), such as, for example, lights, charging connections, personal electronic docking connections, etc. Although the energy storage and vehicle propulsion systems may be distributed across the various structural members and elements of the vehicle, in many embodiments the energy storage elements, such as, for example, one or more batteries (34) may be disposed along the length of the front wheel-bearing structural member along with any required control electronics, electric interconnections, etc., or mechanical controls, cables, etc. necessary for the operation of the electric vehicle, as shown in FIGs. 1 a to 1 c. although one specific battery arrangement is shown in FIGs. 1 to 2, it should be understood that other configurations may be implemented, such as, for example, where the battery 34' is incorporated into the inner volume of one or both the wheel-bearing structural members (as shown in FIG. 4), or where the battery 34" comprises a portion of one or both the wheel-bearing structural members (as shown in FIG. 5).

[0055] As shown in FIG. 1 b, the front wheel assembly (13) generally comprises a wheel (38) rotatable interconnected with the assembly, such as via an axle (39) or other suitable rotatable interconnection. The front wheel assembly may also include front footrests (not shown), which may take any suitable form, such as, for example, a peg or pedal. Such a footrest may be foldable or retractable to reduce the profile of the footrest relative to the wheel assembly. Finally, the wheel assembly may include other accessories, such as, for example, a fender or mud-flap (not shown) mounted about the wheel to decrease water or other debris from being splattered against the rider during operation. Although the motor or other propulsion means may be distributed across the vehicle and interconnected via suitable drive interconnections, in many embodiments the vehicle propulsion mechanism may be formed as part of the wheel assembly, such as within the hub (40) of the wheel to provide motive force to the vehicle. In many such embodiments the propulsion mechanism may include an electric motor disposed within the hub of the wheel of the wheel assembly (13) and electrically interconnected with the energy storage elements disposed elsewhere in the vehicle.

[0056] Examining now the rear wheel-bearing structural member, FIGs. 1 c and 2b provide views of embodiments of the vehicle (10) and the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14). As shown, in many embodiments the vehicle (10) comprises a rear wheel- bearing structural member (14) having a seat-bearing assembly (16) and front wheel structural member (12) interconnected therewith. In such embodiments, the rear wheel- bearing structural member (14) may be interconnected to the front wheel-bearing structural member (12) through a pivot interconnection (18) at an end distal to the rear wheel (15), and to a seat-bearing structural member (16) along its length through, for example, an elongated linking bracket (32). In some embodiments, this interconnection is made at a first end (21 ) to the rear wheel-bearing assembly (14) and at a second end (20) along the length of the seat-bearing structural member (16) via a pair of pivotable interconnections which are capable of linking the movement of the rear wheel-bearing structural member and the seat-bearing post such that when one pivots the other pivots.

[0057] As shown in FIG. 1 c, the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14) further comprises a rear wheel assembly (15) distal from the pivot assembly (18). Turning now to the construction of the rear wheel-bearing assembly (15), as shown in FIG. 1 c, in many embodiments the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14) may be formed of an elongated body that may be made hollow such that the body defines an interior volume. Although the structural member is shown as being square, it will be understood that the member may take any suitable cross-section. The structural member (14) may also be formed from any material suitable to provide sufficient structural support to the vehicle, such as, for example, a metal, composite, or polymer. Although not shown, in many embodiments the weight of the rear wheel-bearing structural member may be lightened by including fenestrations along the body thereof.

[0058] As further shown in FIG. 1 c, for example, in many embodiments, the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14) may comprise, at its lower end, an interconnection point (42) such that a wheel assembly (15) may be interconnected therewith. In some such embodiments, such an interconnection may comprise a rear axle (44) such that the wheel may rotate relative to the rear wheel-bearing assembly.

[0059] In many embodiments, as discussed in relation to FIGs. 1 c and 2b, the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14) may further comprise a pair of rear main pivot interconnects (18 & 21 ) disposed along its length and configured such that the rear pivot interconnects may be cooperatively coupled with the pivot interconnections on the other structural members (12 and 16) to combine to form the vehicle main pivot mechanism to allow the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14) to pivot relative to the other structural members (12 and 16) that form the structure of the vehicle.

[0060] Although not shown, other accessories may be included with the rear wheelbearing structural member, including lights, charging connections, personal electronic docking connections, luggage racks, etc. Although the energy storage and vehicle propulsion systems may be distributed across the various structural members and elements of the vehicle, in many embodiments the energy storage elements, such as, for example, one or more batteries may be disposed within the internal volume of the rear wheel-bearing structural member along with any required control electronics, electric interconnections, etc., or mechanical controls, cables, etc. necessary for the operation of the electric vehicle.

[0061] As described above a rear wheel assembly (15) is mounted to the lower end of the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14). As shown in the figures, this rear wheel assembly may comprise one (45) or multiple wheels (not shown) in accordance with embodiments of the vehicle. In many embodiments, as discussed in relation to FIG. 2b, the rear wheel assembly (15) comprises an axle (44) fixedly attached at the lower end of the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14). In some embodiments this fixed axle may comprise one or a plurality of wheels, such as on a pivotable or unpivotable truck (not shown). Although not shown, in some embodiments the rear wheel assembly (15) may include resilient members, such as shock absorbing springs, to provide a shock dampening to the vehicle. In some such embodiments, the wheel or wheels of the rear wheel assembly may also be affixed to the rear wheel bearing structural member (14) in a configuration that would allow the wheels to move relative to the rear wheel-bearing structural member. (Examples of suitable rear wheel configuration may be found in US Patent Pub No. US2016/0347397, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.)

[0062] The rear wheel-bearing structural members (12 and 14) in some such embodiments may be further supported and interconnected with the front wheel-bearing structural member (12) through a tension wire (17'), as shown in FIGs. 1 a to 1 c, to provide further weight-bearing support and structural stability to the frame of the vehicle. In many embodiments, as shown in FIG. 3b, the tension wire element (17) is configured to be attached to the rear and front wheel-bearing members such that it is under tension in the riding configuration (as shown in FIGs. 1 a to 1 c), and slack during the closed or compact configuration (as shown in FIGs. 2a and 2b). Although the tension wires shown and described in the figures are braided wire, it will be understood that alternative tension wire designs and materials may be used. Such tension wire seat supporting elements may be disconnectable from the front and seat structural members, or may be permanently interconnected therewith throughout the movement of the members from riding to compacted configurations.

[0063] Finally, it will be understood that in many embodiments the either the front or rear wheel assemblies may be configured as a removable and/or interchangeable structure, such that the wheels of the vehicle may be removed and the vehicle can be reconfigured between a single or dual-wheel design as desired by the user. This interchangeability can be accomplished by interconnecting one or both of the front or rear wheel assemblies (whether single or dual wheel design) via removable bolts, or a quick- connect attachment, such as, for example, a spring-loaded pin, latch, or other coupling. In embodiments where a two-wheel vehicle design is desired, the vehicle may further include a kickstand or otherwise retractable support, such that the vehicle may stand when unattended by the user.

[0064] Examining now the seat-bearing structural member, FIGs. 1 b and 2b provide perspective views of the seat-bearing structural member (16) and the seat-bearing structural member support (17), respectively. As shown in FIG. 1 a, in many embodiments the seat-bearing structural member (16) generally comprises an elongated structural member having at one end distal to the seat platform (28) a seat pivot bracket (19) interconnectable to the front wheel-bearing member. In some embodiments the seat- bearing member also comprises a second pivot interconnection (20) interconnected through, for example, the linkage bracket (32) to the rear wheel-bearing member (14). Together the pivot interconnections are configured to cooperatively interconnect with the pivot interconnections of the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members (12 and 14) to form the main vehicle pivot mechanism to allow the seat-bearing structural member (16) to pivot relative to the other structural members (12 and 14) that form the structure of the vehicle. In many embodiments, the seat-bearing structural member defines an open hollow structure (36) such that it may pivot around and overlap one or both the front and rear wheel-bearing structural members as shown in FIG. 2a. [0065] Such a seat pivot mechanism may also comprise a locking mechanism configured to engage a cooperative locking mechanism on one or more of the other structural members (12 and 16) of the vehicle to prevent unintended movement of the structural members relative to one another. In some embodiments, as shown in FIGs. 1 b and 2b, the locking mechanism comprises a movable lock disengagement latch (51 ) configured to engage a cooperative locking structural portion of the rear wheel bearing structural member (as shown in FIG. 2a) such that the engagement and disengagement of the locking mechanism is activated by manipulating the seat-bearing structural member, as will be described in greater detail below.

[0066] The seat-bearing structural member (16) in some such embodiments may be further supported and interconnected with the front wheel-bearing structural member (12) through a tension wire (17), as shown in FIGs. 1 a to 1 c, to provide further weight-bearing support and structural stability to the seating platform (28) of the seat-bearing structural member (16) during operation of the vehicle. In many embodiments, as shown in FIG. 3a, the tension wire element (17) is configured to attach to the seat bearing member (16) such that it is under tension in the riding configuration (as shown in FIGs. 1 a to 1 c), and slack during compaction (as shown in FIGs. 2a and 2b). Although the tension wires are shown and described in the figures as a braided wire it will be understood that alternative tension wire designs and materials may be used. Such tension wire seat supporting elements may be disconnectable from the front and seat structural members, or may be permanently interconnected therewith throughout the movement of the members from riding to compacted configurations.

[0067] In various other embodiments, the seat-bearing structural member may include a resilient member (not shown) (e.g., a shock absorber or other spring or pneumatic element) for dampening any shocks and bumps such that they are not transmitted fully to the seat (28). [0068] The seat-bearing structural member (16) may also comprise certain accessories, such as, for example, lights, charging connections, personal electronic docking connections, (not shown), etc. Although the energy storage and vehicle propulsion systems may be distributed across the various structural members and elements of the vehicle, in many embodiments the energy storage elements, such as, for example, one or more batteries may be disposed within the internal volume of the seat- bearing structural member along with any required control electronics, electric interconnections, etc., or mechanical controls, cables, etc. necessary for the operation of the electric vehicle. The structural member may be formed from any material suitable to provide sufficient structural support to the vehicle, such as, for example, a metal, composite, or polymer.

[0069] As shown in FIG. 1 a, in many embodiments the seat-bearing structural member may include fenestrations (50) along the elongated body thereof. Any number and configuration of such fenestrations may take any geometry or shape suitable maintain the structural integrity of the structural member. The position of the seat-bearing structural member (16) and/or the seat platform (28) may be adjustable relative to the remainder of the vehicle. In such embodiments adjustments might include height relative to the ground, distance relative to the handlebars, angle relative to the other components, etc. Although one embodiment of a seating platform (28) comprising a bicycle-style seat is shown in the figures, it will be understood that the riding platform may take any form, style or shape suitable to support a rider.

[0070] As shown in detail in FIGs. 1 a and 1 b, each of the structural members includes a plurality of cooperative pivot interconnections (18, 19, 20 & 21 ), each of which engage and pivot during compaction or expansion of the vehicle. In many embodiments each of the pairs of cooperative pivot hinge interconnections are disposed in a nested arrangement, wherein the seat pivot interconnections form the outer elements relative to the front wheel-bearing and rear wheel-bearing members, and the front pivot hinge bracket (18) forms the outer element relative to the rear wheel-bearing member, although this configuration may be reordered without effecting the operation or function of the folding function of the vehicle. [0071] In many embodiments, as will be described in relation to FIGs. 1 b and 2b, the vehicle pivot mechanism may further comprise a cooperative locking mechanism configured to be moved between a first locking position where the vehicle, including structural member and seat-bearing post, are disposed and secured in the compacted position, and a second unlocked position where the vehicle is disposed in an open/riding position. Although such a cooperative locking mechanism may take any suitable form, in some embodiments, as shown in the figures, the mechanism may take the form of a latch mechanism. In one such embodiment, a pivotable latch member may be disposed in association with the seat-bearing member (16) and is configured to disengage and engage a cooperative portion of the rear wheel-bearing member (14) formed into the top portion of the member. In embodiments the locking latch may be disengaged from the closed/compacted position by pulling up on the seat-bearing structural member (16). Again, it should be understood that although a specific arrangement of cooperative locking elements are described, any suitable locking mechanism and arrangement of elements may be provided. In many embodiments, such locking mechanisms and arrangements are configured such that the locking mechanism is disengaged by lifting the seat-bearing structural member. Likewise, although only two locking positions are described above, it will be understood that intermediary locking positions may be defined such that desirable vehicle configurations may be stably formed.

[0072] Turning now to the operation of the folding mechanism of the electric vehicle (10), as described above, and as will be discussed in relation to the figures, in many embodiments the two wheel-bearing structural members (12 and 14), and the seat bearing structural member (16) of the vehicle (10) are all pivotally interconnected such that a single folding mechanism operates to moveably reposition all the structural members of the vehicle cooperatively. As shown, in many embodiments the folding mechanism comprises a plurality of pivot interconnection about which each of the structural members (12, 14 and 16) are pivotally interconnected. A locking mechanism comprising, in many embodiments, a latch arrangement, may also be provided to lock the structural members of the vehicle into the compact configurations. In many such embodiments the locking mechanism is disengaged by manipulating the seat-bearing structural member (16), such as, for example, by lifting upward on the structural member.

[0073] It should be understood that although the illustrated embodiments show specific configurations of locking mechanisms, including particular geometries, dispositions and configurations of pins, channels, grooves, notches, etc. that these elements could be modified substantially while maintaining the functionality of the vehicle folding mechanism such that a single cooperative pivot point and locking mechanism is provided capable of being engaged and operated to simultaneously folding the structural members of the vehicle from an open/riding position such that the seat is extended outward away from the structural member, and a second/closed position at which the seat is locked into a compact position where the seat is folded against or flush with the second structural member, via the manipulation of one of the structural members of the vehicle, such as, for example, the seat-bearing structural member.

[0074] In addition, it will be understood that other accessories may be incorporated with the vehicle, including, for example, baskets, lights, cup holders, cell phone chargers and cradles, etc. Many of these accessories are described in US Patent Pub No. US2016/0347397, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

DOCTRINE OF EQUIVALENTS

[0075] As can be inferred from the above discussion, the above-mentioned concepts can be implemented in a variety of arrangements in accordance with embodiments of the invention. For example, though the foldable vehicle has been described in relation to an electric vehicle, it will be understood that the construction and folding mechanism described could be adapted for use with other propulsion types, including, for example, a gasoline powered internal combustion engine. Likewise, although the vehicle has been described in relation to two wheel-bearing structural members, it will be understood that any number of structural members could be used along with the proposed vehicle folding mechanism. [0076] Accordingly, although the present invention has been described in certain specific aspects, many additional modifications and variations would be apparent to those skilled in the art. It is therefore to be understood that the present invention may be practiced otherwise than specifically described. Thus, embodiments of the present invention should be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.