It looks like an ordinary bicycle wheel with an oversized centre. But packed inside the sleek, bright red hub is a veritable Swiss army knife’s worth of electronic gadgets and novel functions.
The Copenhagen Wheel, designed by researchers at MIT’s Senseable City Lab, was first unveiled four years ago at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change. The good news: its developers are now offering a commercial version to consumers.
Using a series of sensors and a Bluetooth connection to the rider’s iPhone, which can be mounted on the handlebars, the wheel can monitor the bicycle’s speed, direction and distance travelled, as well as collect data on air pollution and even the proximity of the rider’s friends. The wheel stores energy when braking, returning the power to provide a boost when going uphill or to add a burst of speed in traffic.
Explains Professor Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT Senseable City Lab: “The wheel uses a technology similar to the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which has radically changed Formula One racing over the past couple of years. When you brake, your kinetic energy is recuperated by an electric motor and then stored by batteries within the wheel, so you can have it back… when you need it.”
See how the Copenhagen Wheel turns an ordinary bike into a smart electric hybrid…
Thumbnail credit: Max Tomasinelli