the future people have introduced their latest vehicle, ORBIT, at the cooper hewitt smithsonian design museum as part of an exhibition of socially responsible design titled ‘by the people – designing a better america’. it is the fourth vehicle of their ongoing future cycles project, which brought human powered vehicles to the detroit auto show in 2015. for ORBIT they have moved to a fully electric drivetrain in order to simplify the fabrication, lower the cost, and achieve a higher top speed. the end result is a fully enclosed vehicle which weighs just 250 lbs., goes 30 mph, has a 25-mile range, and fully recharges in 6 hours. it uses less than a penny per mile in energy cost and might be the perfect commuter vehicle. however, if you want one, you may have to build it yourself.




‘the goal of this project is not production, but rather to create personal agency in response to the grip of the auto industrial complex,’ said cameron van dyke of the future people, ‘our question is what if we could build and maintain our own energy efficient transportation?’ in order to explore that question they needed an established legal framework within which to operate. the answer was to use the legal definition of a moped as a design tool. in the state of michigan, a moped is a vehicle that has two or three wheels, a motor with less than 4 horsepower, and a top speed of 30 mph. it cannot have a shiftable transmission. ‘using just those simple requirements left a lot of room for reinterpretation,’ van dyke explained, ‘we had to overlook any preconceived idea of what a moped was supposed to look like.’

ORBIT is the fourth vehicle in the future people’s ongoing future cycles project



fabricated from 1/16” laser cut aluminum, a simple welded steel frame, off the shelf bicycle parts, and a 3000w e-bike kit, the ORBIT is assembled largely by using pre-located holes and pop rivets to make assembly as easy as possible. ‘there are other companies that are developing enclosed three wheeled vehicles,’ says van dyke, ‘but they are designed for production and are dependent on the market for success. the future cycles concept is instead to develop a simple, safe, low-tech design that can be shared with anyone who has the ambition and fabrication skills to build and maintain it themselves.’


‘by the people – designing a better america’ will show at the cooper-hewitt smithsonian design museum from sept 30 – feb 26, 2017.

the ORBIT is crafted largely by using pre-located holes and pop rivets to make assembly as easy as possible

the design uses fully electric drivetrain to simplify fabrication, lower the cost, and give it a higher top speed

ORBIT might be the perfect commuter vehicle

the craft is easily assembled using off the shelf bicycle parts

the fully enclosed vehicle which weighs just 250 lbs, goes 30 mph, has a 25-mile range, and fully recharges in 6 hours



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: peter corboy | designboom



  • The basic design is very promising (my graduation work 20y ago was the same) but the hull design is not. It hurts me to see that future transportation studies look mostly so…sorry, ridiculous. Why can’t it look really coool or radically new? With electric propulsion we have so many new options. This one looks like a childs soap box toy…you won’t attract people with that, enforced by a video that makes the whole project look a lough about yourself and not a serious attempt.
    The base, stearing, passenger seating is fantastic and reduced to the max, I’m shure you can convince many with a better design. Also: consider cargo options and access to. With low range the main use will be shopping, leisure and like.
    But: I envy you that you made it that far 😉 but now: go further.

    Dirk16 says:
  • So charming!

    oabirch says:
  • Cute. Remindful of the Messerschmidt. And in a collision, it crushes flat for easy recycling.

    Mort D'Urban says:
  • Dirk, check out the Arcimoto. Same idea, but much further along in terms of design, function and production.

    Tightapex says:
  • Finally, concept-driven reality. Clean and clearly functional. Visually large enough to be seen. Probably would crash better than one would think(with some more rivets-or adhesives).

    Ron Paoletti says:

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