By Annemarie Conte and Esther Haynes
The transportation program at the Art Center College of Design has produced legendary car designers, including BMW chief of design Chris Bangle and Henrik Fisker, the creator of the Fisker Karma electric supercar. But this year, after professor Bumsuk Lim’s inaugural motorcycle-design class, the buzz is all about bikes, especially Jake Loniak’s exoskeleton motorcycle concept Deus Ex Machina.
Actually, to call Deus a “motorcycle” is a bit of a stretch. It would stand vertically when parked, so that the rider can step in and strap the bike on like a full-body suit. A computer would interpret the rider’s body movements, translate those into directional commands for the motorcycle, and steer the bike using 36 pneumatic muscles (artificial muscles made by the German company Festo that inflate or deflate to change the direction). “It’s like riding two skateboards at once, but stable, because the machine supports the rider’s body,” Loniak explains. These two skateboards, however, would be powered by lithium-ion batteries and ultracapacitors and capable of hitting 75 mph. “I never envisioned this as a commuter,” he says. “This is a sport bike.”