The Copenhagen Wheel: An Electric Bicycle Wheel With Seamless Smart Features [VIDEO]

By Ajit Jha on December 7, 2013 4:32 PM EST

The Copenhagen Wheel
The Copenhagen Wheel can turn any bicycle into an electric bicycle. (Photo: YouTube)

Designed and developed by MIT's SENSEable City Lab, the Copenhagen Wheel will turn almost any bicycle into an electric bicycle. Its sleek red hub comes packed with an internal gearing system in addition to a motor and batteries. The gearing system allows users to capture the energy dissipated while braking and cycling. This saved energy can then be used when a little boost is needed - when overcoming hills, for instance.

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"The average non-professional rider puts out around 75 watts [when riding]," Assaf Biderman, an MIT researcher and founder of Superpedestrian, the company that makes the wheel, told Boston Magazine. "With the motor you get a continuous 250 watts extra. That's 325 watts. That's more than four times than your average person can put out. You are almost four times stronger."

While sales of the Copenhagen Wheel started few days ago, it's not expected to ship until the first of April, according to Biderman. Priced at $700 for those who pre-order, and weighing about 12 lbs., it costs as much as a bike, but Biderman thinks it's worth the investment for anyone using two wheels. The wheel will go up to $799 once pre-order deals are over.

The Copenhagen Wheel is also a smart-sensing device. It can provide real-time feedback on fitness and exercise goals, road conditions, and upcoming traffic conditions that are sent to the rider's phone or computer. In turn, this data, which is collected through sensors in the wheel, can be immensely valuable. One can share it with friends and gain access to a larger pool of information. For example, many cyclists in a single city can share information collected by their wheel, and therefore, each biker will have finely tuned information on their city. The cities could then cross analyze large volumes of this data, allowing for an understanding of transportation and infrastructure. Eventually, this is the kind of crowd-sourcing that helps organize how resources are allocated, enables response to environmental conditions in real time, and allows for better implementation of environmental and transportation policies.

The wheel is designed as an entirely self-contained unit, powered by a 48-volt rechargeable battery, and sports a range of 30 miles. Additionally, its rider doesn't need to adjust for speed using a button or a throttle, because it compensates with automatically, just when necessary. What's more, a bit of additional security comes built in, as it locks when you walk away.

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