QUANTICO, Va. -- In metropolitan hubs like Washington, D.C., they're everywhere: popular new electric scooters that can speed along a commute and then stow away, without the overhead or footprint of a conventional vehicle.
Now, elements of U.S. Special Operations Command and other military units may be considering their own, ruggedized variant of the trendy vehicle. On display at the Modern Day Marine Expo at Quantico this week was the DS EZ Raider, an all-electric, four-wheeled scooter model that can travel at up to 43 miles per hour on any kind of terrain.
Jim Blackburn, the executive vice president of Bethesda, Maryland-based Mistral Inc., which distributes the vehicle, said it was designed for stealth and is able to operate completely silently.
The scooter weighs just 150 pounds, but can carry up to 450 pounds of weight. An optional, independently powered two-wheeled trailer can carry another 1,000 pounds and be set up to operate as a litter for wounded troops or a personnel carrier.
"[The 150-pound weight] is key, because you can tandem-jump it," Blackburn said. "You can do an air assault or an airborne operation, have this on the ground, then take yourself 43 miles [in an hour] in any direction."
Because the DS EZ Raider can be jumped from aircraft, Blackburn said the greatest interest in the vehicle has come from units that do just that, including Army infantry brigade combat teams, Special Operations Forces, Army Rangers, and the Army's elite Delta Force.
"Those are the guys who have already been in contracting talks about, how can I use this as another pair of boots," he said. "You've heard [Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley] talk about another pair of boots. This is another pair of boots that is stealthy, that can take you 43 miles someplace ... You're not fatigued when you get there."
Blackburn added that "the highest end" of SOCOM already has a few of the scooters and is conducting experiments with them.
And just like its urban ride-sharing sibling, the scooter can be operated with little or no training. "In this thing, you don't have to drink your milk and eat your Wheaties in middle school to be a professional rider," Blackburn said. "Anyone can jump on there and ride the thing."