I first heard about the Copenhagen Wheel (created by MIT) last week from CleanTechnica. I love the idea of converting a city cruiser to an e-bike that will give riders a boost when needed. Not only that, but the wheel serves to help monitor air pollution and traffic levels! From the description on the Copenhagen Wheel Website :
Smart, responsive and elegant, the Copenhagen Wheel is a new emblem for urban mobility. It transforms ordinary bicycles quickly into hybrid e-bikes that also function as mobile sensing units. The Copenhagen Wheel allows you to capture the energy dissipated while cycling and braking and save it for when you need a bit of a boost. It also maps pollution levels, traffic congestion, and road conditions in real-time.
And for a more detailed description:
The Copenhagen Wheel differs from other electric bikes in that all components are elegantly packaged into one hub. There is no external wiring or bulky battery packs, making it retrofittable into any bike. Inside the hub, we have arranged a motor, 3-speed internal hub gear, batteries, a torque sensor, GPRS and a sensor kit that monitors CO, NOx, noise (db), relative humidity and temperature. In the future, you will be able to spec out your wheel according to your riding habits and needs.
Live in San Francisco? Add more battery power. Interested in real-time applications? Increase the number of sensors.
Lastly, the wheel is controlled through your Smart Phone and becomes a natural extension of your everyday life. Simply place your phone on the handlebars, and its Bluetooth module syncs with the Bluetooth module in the hub of the Copenhagen Wheel. You can then use your phone and our Copenhagen Wheel Application to unlock and lock your bike, change gears, select how much the motor assists you and for viewing
relevant real-time information.
Mapawatt readers may remember our popular post on Cyclist Bicycle Power Output. Cranking hard up a hill a cyclist may be pushing 300 Watts. I'm very curious to learn more about the size of the motor in the Copenhagen Wheel and compare that with a cyclist's power output. As an avid cyclist, I'd love to test drive this thing (hint hint MIT).
I first thought the goal of the wheel was to give the electric boost, and that the sensors were an afterthought, but it looks like it may be the other way around. The wheel was created under the SENSEable program at MIT. The goal of the program:
The real-time city is now real! The increasing deployment of sensors and hand-held electronics in recent years is allowing a new approach to the study of the built environment. The way we describe and understand cities is being radically transformed - alongside the tools we use to design them and impact on their physical structure. Studying these changes from a critical point of view and anticipating them is the goal of the SENSEable City Laboratory, a new research initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
It's great the wheel can monitor data, but I'm going to be curious to see how that data can be used to help others to improve air quality and congestion, which is the goal after all. Monitoring is the easy party of the project. What you do with that data is what counts! I'm also curious as to how much power will really be available to assist cyclists. Either way, it's an interesting project and has a lot of promise!