The Hamburg-based start-up Floatility has recently launched several hundred ultra lightweight scooters in the grounds of a company in Singapore, Gruenderszene.de reported Monday (August 14, 2017). Staff in Singapore can rent the scooters, which will also be available in Vienna from September, Oliver Risse, founder of Floatility, told Gründerszene. Then tourists can rent the scooters from hotels co-operating with Floatility. So far, the absence of a legal framework in Germany has prevented the start-up from adding its scooters to Hamburg’s shared mobility mix. The scooters weigh just 12 kilogrammes and let the driver travel at speeds of 25 km/hour across tarmac, cobblestones and loose chippings.
Two locations and last stretch
Risse, the man behind Floatility is an industrial engineer and has worked in the cleantech sector for over 15 years. He has worked in both Hamburg and Singapore for over 10 years developing business concepts and backing young companies. Risse does not see his concept as a rival to traditional sharing providers. His aim is instead, “to solve the problem of the last mile with the e-floater”; meaning stretches of five kilometres at the most. However, appeals to state governments and the German government to amend the law banning small electric vehicles have been unsuccessful so far.
Solar charging benches
Floatility aims to provide an environment-friendly, solar energy solution for travelling downtown. Risse had the Hamburg-based photovoltaic producer, SolarNova, develop a solar station shaped like a bench. Risse noted: “The benches can be set up easily and are flexible.” The rollers take one-and-a-half to two hours to charge fully and you can then float around 15 kilometres through the city centre without emissions. Around ten to 20 solar benches are needed to meet the charging requirements in downtown Hamburg, Risse estimates. The floatility app for locating rollers and charging stations is already in operation.
Potential in both markets
Hamburg and Singapore are pilot markets for floatility. Risse said: “We can test the roller’s suitability in completely different kinds of weather in Hamburg and Singapore,” as both markets have potential. Tropical temperatures in Singapore make cycling downtown almost impossible. “Every physical activity is unpleasant in hot, sultry temperatures,” said Risse. Floatility in Hamburg could be advantageous over city bicycles, as the rollers are easily folded, do not take up much space and can be taken on the underground during rush hour.
Modular production in Indonesia
The project came about in co-operation with BASF. In 2015, the company launched the co-creation programme with several founders and focused on city life, energy and nutrition. BASF is providing special composites and plastic materials, which a Stuttgart-based mechanical engineer is processing for individual modular parts in Indonesia, for floatility. Risse and a team of five do the finishing in Hamburg and Singapore.
Risse’s office is adjacent to his workshop on the MLOVE Future City Campus in HafenCity. Harald Neidhardt, founder of MLOVE, designed the area in Baakenhafen as a meeting-point for founders and for work platforms in sustainable urban development. Risse’s MakerLAB Hamburg is in several ocean containers overlooking HafenCity University. The office reflects the overall concept of floatility, Risse said, adding: “It’s compact and modular. The containers can be easily moved at any time to another place.”
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