For a skateboarder, riding down stairs is a surefire way to end up breaking a bone, so steps are commonly avoided either by grinding down a rail or doing an ollie over the hazard. But what could skaters do with a board capable of riding down the stairs themselves?
Royal College of Art graduate Po-Chih Lai has designed the Stair Rover, an eight-wheeled skateboard capable of riding down stairs that was recently featured on Fastco Design. The design includes a flexible aluminum Y-frame that bends and conforms to the shape of a given set of stairs, ensuring the board stays steady.
“The piece aims to expanding the capability and possibility of extreme sports as we understand them,” Lai said on his website. “This advanced boarding activity turns boundaries and restrictions into a positive and creative physical enquiry into the ever kinesis of the urban ecosystem.”
Lai also told Fastco Design that in the same way surfers see waves as “the hidden energy of nature," he sees stairs as that same hidden energy within cities. Skateboarders eager to surf stairs will have to be patient, though, as Lai's website for the Stair Rover currently has no pricing or distribution information available.
Similar applications of this design have been seen in products like the iBOT 4000, invented by billionaire entrepreneur and inventor Dean Kamen. The customized wheelchair with mobility up and down stairs retailed for $26,000, but was discontinued in 2009.
Check out the Stair Rover in action in the video below: