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Title:
COMPACTIBLE SCOOTER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/033015
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:
DELGATTY GRANT (US)
ETZELSBERGER SVEN (US)
Application Number:
US2018/046294
Publication Date:
February 14, 2019
Filing Date:
August 10, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
URBAN626 LLC (US)
International Classes:
B62K15/00; B62D31/00; B62K13/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017017067A12017-02-02
Foreign References:
US20150068828A12015-03-12
CN104875828A2015-09-02
US6367832B12002-04-09
US20150209205A12015-07-30
US20050156401A12005-07-21
Other References:
URB-E SPORT GT, 28 June 2017 (2017-06-28), Retrieved from the Internet [retrieved on 20180210]
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ADAMS, Bryan, K. (2190 S. Towne Centre Place Suite 30, Anaheim CA, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1 . A vehicle comprising:

a front and a rear wheel-bearing structural members having first and second ends and each defining a wheel-bearing structural member longitudinal axis, each of said wheel-bearing structural members having at least one wheel assembly interconnected to the second end thereof and a wheel-bearing structural member pivot interconnection disposed at a first end thereof distal from the second end; 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 a seat-bearing pivot interconnection disposed at the first end thereof;

wherein the pivot interconnections are nested together and pivotably interconnected about a single pivoting point to form a vehicle pivot mechanism such that the structural members are pivotably interconnected to move 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; and

wherein in the folded configuration the front wheel-bearing structural member is disposed within the body of the rear wheel-bearing structural member.

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

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

5. The vehicle of claim 4, wherein the energy storage device is removable from the vehicle.

6. 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.

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

8. The vehicle of claim 7, wherein the pivot locking mechanism comprises a latch configured to engage each of the structural members at a single point.

9. The vehicle of claim 8, wherein the latch is configured to disengage when the seat- bearing structural member is pivoted upward when in the second compacted configuration.

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

1 1 . 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.

12. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein in the folded configuration the seating platform is disposed above the wheel disposed on the rear wheel-bearing structural member and below the wheel disposed on the front wheel-bearing structural member.

13. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein the pivot interconnections of each of the structural member comprise a gear element, and wherein the gear elements are cooperatively engaged such that movement of one structural element is transferred to the other structural elements.

14. The vehicle of claim 1 , wherein the structural elements are nested such that the rear wheel-bearing element is disposed as the outer member, the seat-bearing element is disposed as the inner member, and the front wheel-bearing element is disposed therebetween.

15. 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.

16. The vehicle of claim 8 wherein each of the structural members further comprise a singular groove formed into each of the pivot interconnections and configured to engage and disengage the latch such that the latch may be disengaged thereby allowing the structural members to move relative to each other.

17. The vehicle of claim 1 further comprising cladding connected to the outside portion of at least the rear wheel bearing structure.

18. The vehicle of claim 1 wherein the front and rear wheel bearing structures are configured such that the wheel assemblies may be removeably engaged with each of the respective structures such that the wheel assembly configuration may be changed.

19. The vehicle of claim 1 wherein the front wheel assembly further comprises a suspension mechanism slidingly engaged with the second end of front wheel structural member and configured to allow the front wheel to move up and down between each portion of the front wheel structural member.

20. The vehicle of claim 1 further comprising 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 a personal electronic device.

21 . The vehicle of claim 20 wherein the at least one vehicle parameter is selected from the group consisting of vehicle speed, energy consumption, energy reserve, mileage, and direction.

22. The vehicle of claim 1 wherein the at least one seat-bearing structural member further comprises a resilient member rotabably connected between the at least one seat- bearing structural member and the rear wheel bearing structure.

Description:
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FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] Compact, foldable electric vehicles are described.

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 and a rear wheel-bearing structural members having first and second ends and each defining a wheel-bearing structural member longitudinal axis, each of said wheel-bearing structural members having at least one wheel assembly interconnected to the second end thereof and a wheel-bearing structural member pivot interconnection disposed at a first end thereof distal from the second end;

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 a seat-bearing pivot interconnection disposed at the first end thereof;

wherein the pivot interconnections are nested together and pivotably interconnected about a single pivoting point to form a vehicle pivot mechanism such that the structural members are pivotably interconnected to move 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; and

wherein in the folded configuration the front wheel-bearing structural member is disposed within the body of the rear wheel-bearing structural member.

[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, a portion of the front wheel-bearing structural member pivots with the wheel assembly.

[0008] In yet other embodiments, at least a portion of the rear wheel-bearing structural member has an energy storage device disposed thereon.

[0009] In still yet other embodiments, the energy storage device is removable from the vehicle. [0010] In 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.

[0011] In still other embodiments, the vehicle includes a pivot locking mechanism configured to disengageably lock the structural members in at least the folded configuration. In some such embodiments, the pivot locking mechanism comprises a latch configured to engage each of the structural members at a single point. In other such embodiments the latch is configured to disengage when the seat-bearing structural member is pivoted upward when in the second compacted configuration.

[0012] In yet other embodiments, the rear wheel assembly comprises at least two wheels interconnected via a fixed axle.

[0013] In still yet other embodiments, the vehicle includes at least one electric motor disposed within at least one of the wheel assemblies and an energy storage device interconnected therewith.

[0014] In other embodiments, in the folded configuration the seating platform is disposed above the wheel disposed on the rear wheel-bearing structural member and below the wheel disposed on the front wheel-bearing structural member.

[0015] In still other embodiments, the pivot interconnections of each of the structural member comprise a gear element, and wherein the gear elements are cooperatively engaged such that movement of one structural element is transferred to the other structural elements.

[0016] In yet other embodiments, the structural elements are nested such that the rear wheel-bearing element is disposed as the outer member, the seat-bearing element is disposed as the inner member, and the front wheel-bearing element is disposed therebetween.

[0017] 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.

[0018] In other embodiments, each of the structural members have a singular groove formed into each of the pivot interconnections where the groove is configured to engage and disengage the latch such that the latch may be disengaged thereby allowing the structural members to move relative to each other.

[0019] In still other embodiments, the vehicle is configured with cladding connected to the outside portion of at least the rear wheel bearing structure.

[0020] In yet other embodiments, the front and rear wheel bearing structures are configured such that the wheel assemblies may be removeably engaged with each of the respective structures such that the wheel assembly configuration may be changed.

[0021] In still yet other embodiments, the front wheel assembly has a suspension mechanism slidingly engaged with the second end of front wheel structural member and configured to allow the front wheel to move up and down between each portion of the front wheel structural member.

[0022] 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.

[0023] 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

[0024] 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: [0025] FIGs. 1 a and 1 b provide views of a foldable electric vehicle in an open riding configuration in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0026] FIGs. 2a and 2b provide views of a foldable electric vehicle in a compacted configuration in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0027] FIG. 3 provides a view of a foldable vehicle in open riding and compacted configurations in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0028] FIG. 4 provides an exploded view of the parts of a foldable electric vehicle in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0029] FIG. 5 provides a detailed view of a suspension mechanism of a foldable vehicle in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0030] FIG. 6 provides a detailed view of the folding mechanism of a foldable vehicle in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

[0031] FIGs. 7a-7d provide a series of views of a foldable vehicle during compacting in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0032] 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.

[0033] 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.

[0034] 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, rear, and seat structural members are all pivotably interconnected at an end around a single pivot point, to form an overall 'A-frame' configuration for the vehicle when in the riding position. In some embodiments, the front and rear wheel members are attached at an end distal to the wheels, and the seat member is attached to the front and rear wheel members at an end thereof distal to the seat. In some such embodiments, the pivot interconnection between structural members includes a set of interlocking gears. In other embodiments, the pivoting interconnection includes a locking mechanism, such as, for example, a locking pin that engages the set of interlocking rotatable gears at the ends of structural members such that the vehicle may be locked into one of either the riding or folded configurations.

[0035] In many other embodiments one or more 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 rear structural member of the vehicle, and bears the rear wheel thereof. In many embodiments, the pivotable rear 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. In other embodiments, the power source may be enclosed in a separate container or volume attached to one or both of the structural members.

[0036] 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 may be disposed.

[0037] 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 interlocking rotatable gear elements in the pivotable portion thereby preventing the members from pivoting relative to one another.

[0038] As shown in FIGs. 1 a and 1 b, in many embodiments a foldable vehicle (10) 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. These structural members are pivotally connected each to the other through a single pivot point (18) that allows movement of the structural members from an open riding configuration, shown in the embodiments shown in FIGs. 1 a and 1 b, to a folded compact configuration, shown in the embodiments shown in FIGs. 2a and 2b.

[0039] 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.

[0040] 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.

[0041] 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 or overlapping with one another. In one such embodiment, the pivoting of the structural members comprises a scissoring motion about the pivot point 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 FIGs. 2a and 2b, for example. In some such embodiments, the front wheel (13) is disposed at least partially within the body of the rear member (14), and the seat (28) disposed on the seat-bearing element is positioned downward between front (13) and rear (15) wheels.

[0042] Additional views of the vehicle of FIGs. 1 and 2, in open and closed positions along with a rider (30) for providing scale and context, is provided in FIG. 3. [0043] 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 one of either the front or rear wheel assembly comprises a pair of double wheels), or the vehicle may have a four-wheel configuration (in which one of either the front or 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.

[0044] Turning now to the detailed construction of the vehicle, several of the elements comprising the vehicle will be described in reference to FIG. 4, which provides an exploded view of the various elements of the vehicle (10), 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, FIG. 4 provide illustrations of embodiments of the individual elements of the vehicle (10). As shown, in many embodiments the vehicle (10) comprises a front wheel- bearing structural member, which in many embodiments comprises lower fork elements (32) between which the front wheel (13 in FIG. 1 a, for example) is disposed and positioned, and front pivoting portion (34) disposed distal the front wheel and having a steering mechanism, such as a handlebar or other suitable structure (29) interconnected therewith. In some such embodiments, the steering mechanism (29) may be formed of one or more pieces and can be interconnected with the lower fork elements (32) 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, the lower portion of the front structural member pivots when operated by the steering mechanism (29), in other embodiments only the front wheel could be pivotable relative to the remaining vehicle structure through the 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.

[0045] 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.

[0046] 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, to prevent motion of the front wheel assembly relative to the vehicle in the compact folded or closed position, the front wheel member (12) is disposed within the body of the rear wheel member.

[0047] Turning now to the construction of the front wheel-bearing structure (12), as shown in FIG. 4, in many embodiments the front wheel-bearing structural member is formed of pairs of bodies (32 & 34) 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, one or more of the bodies that form the front wheel-bearing structural member (12) may include fenestrations (36) along the elongated body. The structural member may also comprise any suitable cross-section. [0048] In many embodiments, as shown in FIG. 4 for example, the front wheel-bearing structural member (12) may further comprise a pair of pivot bodies (34) disposed distal the wheel bearing forks and configured to cooperatively couple with the pivot portions (38 & 40) of the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14) and the seat-bearing structural member (16) to form the vehicle pivot mechanism (18) 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.

[0049] The front wheel-bearing structural member may also comprise certain accessories, such as, for example, a lights portion (42), 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 may be disposed within the internal volume, or attached along the length of the front wheel-bearing structural member along with any required electronics, electric interconnections, etc. necessary for the operation of the electric vehicle.

[0050] As shown in FIGs. 1 a and 1 b, the front wheel assembly (13) generally comprises a wheel (44) rotatable interconnected with the assembly, such as via an axle (46) or another 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 (48) of the wheel to provide motive force to the vehicle. Although not readily shown, 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. In addition, as shown in FIG. 5, the front wheel assembly (13) may also include a slidable suspension element (50) that allows the wheel (15) to move upward and downward between the pair of lower form bodies (32) as shown by the arrow (52). Such a mechanism may be provided to cushion a rider against bumps and shocks. In accordance with some embodiments the suspension element may be made up of an elastic type material or any resilient material or mechanism configured to engage with the wheel assembly.

[0051] Examining now the rear wheel-bearing structural member, FIGs. 1 a and 1 b 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, as shown in FIG. 4, the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14) comprises a pair of rear wheel bearing portions (54), and at an opposite end a pair of pivot interconnection portions (40), and an elongated hollow body portion (56) disposed therebetween. The rear wheel pivot interconnection portions 40, along with the overlapping front pivot interconnections (34) and the seat pivot interconnections (38) all cooperatively interconnect and pivot relative to each other through a set of gears (as will be discussed relative to FIG. 6) such that the various members pivot about a single pivot point (58) common to all the pivot portions.

[0052] As shown in FIGs. 1 a and 1 b, 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 b, 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. As shown in FIG. 4, in many embodiments the seat-bearing structural member may include fenestrations (59) 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.

[0053] As further shown in FIGs. 1 a and 1 b, for example, in many embodiments, the rear wheel-bearing structural member (14) may comprise, at its lower end, an interconnection point such that a wheel assembly (15) may be interconnected therewith. In some such embodiments, such an interconnection may comprise a rear axle (not shown) such that the wheel may rotate relative to the rear wheel-bearing assembly. Although a single wheel is shown, in alternative embodiments the rear wheel assembly may comprise multiple wheels in accordance with embodiments of the vehicle. In many embodiments, the rear wheel assembly (15) comprises an axle 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.)

[0054] Although not shown, other accessories may be included with the rear wheel- bearing structural member, including lights, charging connections, personal electronic docking connections, luggage racks, etc. In many embodiments, the rear wheel bearing structural member may further comprise cladding (62) to enclose the internal volume thereof. 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 (60) may be disposed within the internal volume (56) of the rear wheel-bearing structural member along with any required electronics, electric interconnections, etc. necessary for the operation of the electric vehicle. In various embodiments, the rear wheel-bearing structural member may include doors that open to allow the front wheel-bearing structural member to be inserted within the body thereof, and close to enclose the front-wheel- bearing structural member therein.

[0055] 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.

[0056] Examining now the seat-bearing structural member, FIGs. 1 a and 1 b provide perspective views of the seat-bearing structural member (16). As shown in FIG. 4, in many embodiments the seat-bearing structural member (16) generally comprises an elongated structural member (64) having at one end distal to the seat platform (28), and a seat pivoting portion (38) rotatably interconnectable with the front and rear wheel- bearing member pivoting portions (34 & 40). Together the pivot interconnections are configured to cooperatively interconnect to form the 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 about single pivot point (58).

[0057] 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 FIG. 6, the locking mechanism (66) comprised of a movable lock disengagement latch configured to engage a cooperative locking structural portion of the pivot portions of each of the structural members (as shown in FIG. 6) such that the engagement and disengagement of the locking mechanism when activated allows all of the members to pivot about each other, as will be described in greater detail below.

[0058] 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).

[0059] 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 electronics, electric interconnections, 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. 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.

[0060] As shown in detail in FIGs. 6 & 7, each of the structural members includes a pivot interconnection portion (34, 38 & 40), each of which engage and pivot during compaction or expansion of the vehicle about a single point (58). In many embodiments, each of the pivoting portions are disposed in a nested arrangement, wherein the rear pivot interconnections (40) form the outer elements, the front pivot interconnections (38) forms the middle element relative, and the seat pivot interconnections (34) form the inner element, although the configuration of the middle and inner interconnections may be reordered without effecting the operation or function of the folding function of the vehicle. [0061] In many embodiments, as will be described in relation to FIGs. 4 and 6, the vehicle pivot mechanism may comprise a series of cooperative gears (68, 70 & 72) disposed about a locking mechanism (66) such that the members are configured to be moved between a first locking position where the vehicle, including wheel members 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 FIG. 6, the locking mechanism may take the form of a latch (66), and is configured to disengage and engage a singular groove (74) formed into each of the pivot portions such that the locking latch may be disengaged from the closed/compacted position to allow the pivot portions to move relative to each other. In some embodiments, the locking latch may be disengaged by moving one of the structural members, such as the seat member (16). Again, it should be understood that although a specific arrangement of cooperative locking elements is 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 to allow the relative pivoting motion of the members. 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.

[0062] In various embodiments of the pivoting mechanism, as shown in FIG. 6, is comprises of a set of cooperative gears that transfer motion of each of the members to each other. In many such embodiments, the seat pivot portion (38) forms the outer gear element (68), the front wheel member pivot portion (40) forms the inner gear element rear wheel member pivot portion (72), and a separate gear element (70) is disposed between the other gear elements to form the middle gear element. The relative motions of the gears (68, 70 & 72) during compacting are shown by the arrows in FIG. 6. Although a specific arrangement of gears is provided, it will be understood that alternative arrangements may be provided that transfer the motion of each member to the other. [0063] 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 FIG. 7, 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 about a single pivot point (18) 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. During operation, as shown in the series of views of FIG. 7, the front wheel structural member (12) is folded within the body of the rear wheel structural member (14), while the seat member (16) is folded against the body of the rear wheel structural member. In some embodiments, as shown in the figures, the seat member (16) has a contoured section (76) such that the seat member conforms to the front wheel, which is disposed within the rear wheel member (14). The relative motions of the members in such embodiments during compacting are shown by arrows (78).

[0064] 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. [0065] 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

[0066] 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.

[0067] 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.