Thursday, July 7, 2022


About six years from now, mobility will be on a different level.

All the current fancy cars might be left for the small boys and college lads to purchase.

Streets might be filled with electric cars of all sorts. That is if the current projects, such as that at Keio University in Tokyo, come through.
Professor Hiroshi Shimizu is working on a project to develop electric and convenience cars.

So far there are two types of cars made.
The first one is Eliica.

ELIICA is an acronym for Electric Li-Ion Battery Car. The car was first developed by Shimizu in 2003. He works from the Keio research campus in a little town outside Tokyo. This is where many other projects, such as ubiquitous internet, photonic networks, robotics and others take place.

Professor Shimizu is working with divers companies whose role is donating different car parts according to his specifications. Eliica is not yet patented by any existing automobile company.

The maximum speed of the car is 370km/h. A unique feature of this car is that it solely uses battery and advanced air dynamics. The battery is a substitution for fuel and can last for as long as 300 km on maximum speed.
The car was tested by Japanese F1 racer Ukiyo Katayama in Italy no more than two years ago.

Then there is what is termed the Co-Mobility vehicle. This vehicle takes only one person and is specially designed to suit the disabled, the aged and perhaps the lazy bones or those with ailments such as athritis.
A unique feature of this vehicle is that it has a link to GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) hence the destination can be pre-inputed and have the car navigate its passenger to a chosen location.

It also does not use fuel.

Compared to Eliica, this vehicle is smaller and can be used both outdoors and indoors. It can pick the passenger from their lounge and take them straight to a chosen supermarket. Given the size of supermarkets in Japan and other countries, including South Africa, the passenger especially if aged, lazy or disabled need not get off to do their shopping. This is not the type of vehicle to disturb mobility within a large shopping squareÔÇöthere goes the ambiguity of the name “Co-Mobility”.

Moreover this could favour the growing number of introverts in that it could shop without human contact. They could opt for a self-service cashier at a shop and keep mum until they get back to their house.

Both cars are expected to make a break into the market at around the year 2015.

Shimizu started a cooperation called SIM-DRIVE which is working in partnership with many companies to make this project materialize. Co-Mobility might cost JPY 1 million while Eliica is projected at JPY 3 million. That is about P 80 000 and P 240 000 respectively. This is only a projection. Once they are patented they are likely to cost more.

Unfortunately, these are only fit for mobility within a well-developed city. Obviously Co-Mobility cannot transport one from Gaborone to Mandunyane or Damchochoona unless the roads could be in an excellent condition by then.

Eliica is capable of transporting one from Gaborone to Kasane in just under 2 hours; but that is dependent on road conditions. This should generate impetus for the development of highways from Gaborone to Francistown, Maun and Kasane such as there are in neighbouring South Africa, Britain, Japan, among others.

This project is an academy-industry-government joint project, especially Co-Mobility, which is said to be partly financed by the Japanese government. This can be an inspiration for BIUST, which ideally stands on the threshold for development in Botswana.

As a matter of fact BIUST has already started courting Japanese universities and institutions. The intensification of such a nexus and localization of the concepts could buttress the realization of the recent much-praised State of the Nation Address (and it deserved praise) and the second pillar of Vision 2016 which reads “to be a prosperous, productive and innovative nation”.


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