Only recently have I found myself reading about self-balancing one-wheel, electric mobility machines. Quite some time back on this blog, a great deal of attention was given to the “wheel hub” idea, and since that time, many innovative ideas have only developed more. The market seems to be filling with wheel hubs and unique ideas and the OneWheel is yet another of those.
Future Motion, a Palo Alto based start-up company has introduced the Onewheel self-balancing electric skateboard. It certainly hearkens to the idea of a skateboard as it is a board and you stand on it the same way you might stand on a traditional skateboard. But that’s about the extent of the similarities.
The Onewheel ideal seems to be sitting on one LARGE wheel hub, while storing the electronics and battery in the board. The creators pitch the idea like that of the upcoming commemoration of the hoverboard in Back to the Future II. The Onewheel does seem similar, but as these past thirty years has yet to find us a true overboard, this new single wheel might have to suffice.
According to the Kick Starter video, the Onewheel requires only the motion of your body to maneuver forward or backward. You merely need to lean into the direction that you wish to travel, the further you lean, the faster you go. There is also a tiny button that goes under one of your feet that initiates the power, so that if you fall off, the wheel won’t continue on without you.
They’ve gone so far as to include an app for smartphones and tablets that can give you distance, charge and experience modes.
The motor and power barely there. The motor IS the wheel, or rather inside the hub of the wheel (thus “wheel hub” motor). The mono-wheeled snowboard can charge back up with the standard charger in about 2 hours or fast charge in about 20 minutes. The battery resides under one foot and the motor controller under the other. With a top speed of 12 mph and a range of 4-6 miles, you can get in some serious street shredding.
Back to the Future
The inventor Kyle Doerksen loves to snowboard, but his day job was nowhere near the slopes. His answer to this issue is the Onewheel allowing him and 1000+ backers on Kickstarter to shred the pavement in their own towns.
So far you will need to have supported the (already closed) Kickstarter project to get one of your own. But at a minimum of $1200 it may still be a while until we all have one.
The one thing that bothered me most about riding a skateboard was when riding on anything other than continuous concrete. Bumps, gravel, cracks, breaks, anything could catch those wheels and send me flying. But the one giant wheel on this board will never do that and the ride is smooth even off-road.
Check out the KickStarter video