The horizontal flywheel concept is quite cool, and I'm glad they avoided the problem of earlier attempts which just had one (cars that did this would change their front/back weight balance going around turns in a non-helpful way) Having both (and running them in opposite directions!) means you can cancel out that effect.
I'd worry a bit about the need to keep them spun up at 'idle', its a work load that electric vehicles don't normally carry, but you do get some of that back in efficiency gains when using them as dynamic energy storage so perhaps it is a wash. Would love to see the math on that.
If they wanted to hit the tri-fecta of buzzword viral bingo they should use a 3D printer to print the body out of carbon fiber or something :-)
I would not have bet on that vehicle but it seems to be selling, since I already encountered a bunch of them.
A bunch of stats (for the topmost model, as the lower one is limited in power and does not require a driving license):
80km/h top speed
0-45km/h in 6.1s
473kg with battery (~100kg)
I can see the headline now: "Printable Solar Powered Hover Bike Vending Machine Hits Congested Highway Rest Stops"
Doesn't make economic sense. Doesn't make safety sense. Doesn't make logistical sense. Doesn't make practical sense. Doesn't make environmental sense.
What's the value add?
Electric mopeds cannot go on freeways. An electric motorcycle is better for nontrivial distances.
On the other hand, an electric moped which cannot travel faster than 20mph also has an advantage: in California it is treated as a bicycle and can travel on bike paths on major bridges.
My main complaint: if neither electric motorcycles nor self-balancing motorcycles are currently popular, why would an electric self-balancing motorcycle be popular?
The smaller the vehicle, the less it can rely on passive safety (crashing better), and the more it has to rely on its advantages at active safety (avoiding crashing). You can't cheat physics: a tiny personal vehicle is never going to have passive safety as good as a midsize car. Even relatively safe compact cars like the Toyota Yaris don't have 5-star crash ratings, so I don't see how a 2-wheeler ever will.
Motorcycles are dangerous primarily because (a) small fast vehicles tend to attract more than their share of irresponsible people (which, not uncommonly, includes alcohol), and (b) car drivers have trouble seeing tiny vehicles. I don't see how this vehicle proposes to change either of these factors.
The danger is from not having the steel cage protecting you, not from tipping over in a parking lot. Motorcycles aren't even difficult to balance...at all.
They're easier than bicycles in that respect because they self-stabilize from the speed that operate at. You only need balance when puttering about in the parking lot, and even then, scarcely.
I have to stop reading this thread. I'm a keen motorcyclist and it's vividly apparent none of you know what you're talking about in the slightest.
This vehicle is useless.
Electric motorcycles seem to have some degree of minor popularity, but are certainly a tiny niche even compared to plug-in hybrid cars. But the value-add of a self-balancing motorcycle seems highly dubious.
And considering that 80% of trips taken in cars today have a single occupant, the "seating for 5" argument probably doesn't matter to plenty of people. Obviously, it always will for people with kids and dogs to transport, but there are enough people without those encumbrances to make up a very healthy market.
- handling is supposed to be better than anything
- performance of a bike + safety of a car
- higher mileage than electric cars + faster charge
It may be possible to engineer some improved safety over a bike, but it will never have the safety of even a compact car. You can't beat physics.
They say it would take "a small elephant" to knock it over. You know what is the size & weight of a small elephant? A car...
Rolling isn't the major cause of crash injuries anyway, it's crush and impact injuries. While this is an improvement over motorbikes in these areas (as well as the critical one of weather protection!) it is nothing like as safe as a car.
Even if it is a very technically cool thing.
Being two wheeled it will be classified as a motorcycle (at least here in California.. don't know if that is everywhere). Being a motorcycle gets you other privileges besides lane splitting like being in the HOV lanes and (in some places) special parking.
I like the idea of the vehicle in the article mainly for these reasons: more throughput on the roads (every car has only one passenger) and fuel efficiency. I would like to see a world where people commuted in these and only used the SUV for bigger trips.
Isn't that statistically the least likely way of getting hit on a two-wheeled vehicle? Drivers may be distracted, but even the most inattentive look in front of them.
When you're on two wheels, what you want is space. Space in front of you, space behind you, and ideally space on either side. Space gives you time to react to the unexpected. One of the most dangerous situations to be in is having a car tailgating you; in that case, if anything bad happens, you die. (I don't feel guilty about speeding, filtering at higher speeds, etc., to get away from a dangerous tailgater, and into a situation where they can overtake safely.)
The easiest way to make space for yourself in the urban environment - i.e. one with traffic lights - is to filter to the front and use your acceleration power to get a lead on the traffic when the lights turn green. The idea is that you can largely stay ahead of the cars until the next traffic light. If traffic starts to bunch up, you don't want to get caught in an ever-decreasing amount of space; ideally, you want to move, safely, towards increasing space, overtaking and filtering if necessary to do so.
Incidentally, lane splitting isn't being abused when motorcyclists do it to go faster than cars; that's the whole point.
Lane splitting is an exception, and a pretty hair-raising one at times because people are constantly jockeying to get into the next lane over which looks faster, without signaling. And then there are the people who actively attempt to prevent lane-splitting, by pulling onto the line when they see you coming.
Maybe around the SF Bay Area we are the exception to the lane splitting exception because I see countless motorcycles lane split at all speeds on the freeway during my commute. I would NEVER intentionally get in the way of a passing motorcycle. That is just wrong and dangerous. However, I don't really go out of my way to move over for them either. See... I also drive in the middle of my lane, just like all the good motorcyclists do. :)
I've only ever lane-split when traffic is essentially stopped; at that speed, having somebody suddenly change lanes in front of me would suck, but I wouldn't expect to die from it because I'm moving slowly. It's a lot different when an SUV swerves into you as you're both going 75 on the freeway.
(disclaimer: I don't drive bikes and we don't have too many of them on the roads most of the year)
Also, the gyroscopes will keep you upright even if you're hit? Yeah right. Let's see how that works out when an SUV hits you at 60.
If it were way cooler -- and remember a Ducati, BWM, or just about any premium bike can be had for under 16k already -- I might consider it as a motorcycle driver. But like the OP said I would feel less safe in it because it's lower to the ground and has much less visibility.
And I don't see anywhere where it claimed that the gyros would work in a collision that would destroy the vehicle; that's silly. The point is they won't tip over in a fender bender.
On a more serious note, how is the current market unsustainable? Even if something as specious as "Peak Oil" were true, it's well within our power to move to another fuel source. And since when does fuel availability dictate personal vehicle design? If we can make any personal vehicle, certainly we can make one with four wheels and room for passengers and groceries?
(And the bit about the choice being "only" two wheelers is a strawman; please don't do that. I said it was a "reasonable commute vehicle", it was you that wanted to make an argument about whether it competes with a bike.)
My current car gets 22-25mpg (older Subaru Forester) and it's hardly bigger than a Prius. I could cut my gas bill in half with that switch and lose almost no functionality and certainly no loss of safety.
And the way I look at it, I'd rather just not drive than drive something horribly unsafe.
It's a finite resource with a growing demand. Seems like my argument requires less in the way of elaborate justification.
I don't expect to convince you of anything. So: write it down. In 2012 you thought $4 gas was going to stop getting more expensive. In 2014 when it hits $5, you'll probably think similarly. At $10, maybe you're change your mind. And if you've written it down you'll hopefully avoid this kind of mistake in the future.
People like you have been predicting cheaper gas right around the corner since 2003. They haven't been right yet.
The "finite resource" aspect is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, oil is finite, and it is used up. But what matters is how long can current rates of use be maintained. If it's only a decade then prices will definitely skyrocket, if it's more like a century then prices might not outpace inflation.
I could argue all day about technology and production but the best argument is the simplest one, more often than not the claim that "this time it's different" is seldom justified. What argument do you have that "this time it's different" in regard to cost and volume of oil production vs, say, the 1970s?
People like you have been arguing that we're going to run out of oil since the 1950s. They haven't been right yet.
I don't see a "this time it's different" anywhere, just an extrapolation of pretty clear evidence. I'm willing to listen to alternatives, like this one:
> Short-term estimates are that gas prices probably won't go much higher.
For which you conveniently fail to produce a cite. :)
(edit: and still haven't. The only link I found that matches your point is a Reuters story saying that prices are expected to be stable "this summer". So if a three-month window is your criteria for "short term" then I grant you that. And when the expected rise continues in the fall, you'll promise to change your mind?)
> For which you conveniently fail to produce a cite. :)
It didn't take over the world, but it fits my use case perfectly.
I've done that sort of distance on my pushbike. It cost $AU 750 and it kept me fit.
Bicycle goodness notwithstanding, the Segway is a hoot to ride, and five years in I haven't tired of it.
I mean, I'd buy it for... maybe $5000ish, if I were feeling particularly spendy?
You can also deduct the cost of fuel over the vehicle's lifetime. For someone commuting one hour each way to work five days a week, the cost of gas for a big car can exceed $200/month, $2400/year, or $12,000 over the course of five years. That makes the up-front price seem quite a bit more competitive with gas-powered alternatives.
Similar situation with the "Smart" car. The passenger cell can take a 60mph impact into a barrier just fine. The passengers - not so much, the g-forces inflicted are much higher than a traditional vehicle. Even 12-18 inches of crumple zone would make a BIG difference.
Safety does remain a very important consideration here, and I'm also wondering how safe those heavy gyroscopes under your seat are in a collision. They had better be extremely well-shielded from the passenger compartment.
So if you care about your dear little children you have to buy the M1 Abrahams tank. A mere $4.3M for the peace of mind of knowing your little ones are protected in a collision with an Escalade.
(ps the 120mm cannon is also useful against Volvos)
Of course it's a much more efficient vehicle than a car, due to it's weight, the higher efficiency of electrical motors and regenerative braking. One figure in the article is 220 miles on an 8kWh battery. I think I pay something like €0.25 per kWh, most of you probably spend less. So about 100 miles/€, and about €2 to recharge the whole battery.
 Not that they're readily comparable, since "regular" motors convert a primary fuel into motion, while electrical motors convert electrical energy. Which itself is often generated from a primary fuel, introducing significant inefficiency.
[Electric motors and batteries also have relatively little energy waste, making the system as a whole more efficient to operate, especially when you consider being able to leverage the superior distribution infrastructure of the electric grid versus the relatively sparse network of fuel stations. Consider that most fuel stations receive their supply by tanker-truck, which introduces yet more inefficiency.]
A small common rail diesel engine in a car gets close to 40%, a coal power plant runs at about 45%.
Add in transmission losses and charging/battery/electric motor and the diesel g CO2/km is probably better.
Of course, that's not really transparent to the electricity user in most cases.
I never did understand why anyone ever thought the Segway would revolutionize anything. I don't see the big advantage, and - frankly - you look downright ridiculous riding it.
And yes - I did get to ride it. It's kind of cool for the novelty factor, but I fail to see any incredible advantage over the more traditional alternatives.
Segways are not off-road vehicles, nor are they fast or maneuverable enough to be an effective security vehicle.
The first picture in the Wired article shows the driver's unhelmeted head poking out of the roof above the rollbar. Prototype or not, how could the CEO even let a photo be taken of such an obvious safety flaw, let alone allow a journalist to take it for a test drive? Demonstrating a lax attitude towards safety is enough to scare off investors.
This has effects beyond the two-wheeled rider; Remember, you're never stuck in traffic, you are traffic. A recent study suggested that if 10% of car drivers switched to two-wheeled vehicles, congestion would reduce by 40%. Currently, riders of motorcycles are at an exceptionally high risk of death or serious injury. A fully enclosed two-wheeler could be every bit as safe as a car.
There are also substantial efficiency savings to be made, due to the C1's very small frontal area. A faired two-wheeler with a recumbent seating position is naturally very close to the aerodynamically ideal dolphin-shape. A four-wheeled vehicle could only achieve similar aerodynamic efficiency by being very long and low, with single or tandem seating, as in the Volkswagen 1L concept or Shell Eco-Marathon competitors. This substantially compromises visibility and turning circle, making such a vehicle very poorly suited to its obvious use as an urban commuter.
A fully enclosed two-wheeler could be every bit as safe as a car.
That's primarily due to their width, not their wheel count. This vehicle is a two-seater, so in terms of congestion it probably has a lot more in common with city cars than with motorcycles.
So… a car hitting the side then?
For all the arguments of a motorbike, even at low speeds, no matter which way you slice or dice it, you still get the wrong end of the stick if you get hit/drop it.
I myself would make the leap to one of these in a heartbeat when they're production ready. Huge win for small commutes in and around the city, just myself.
There's a (different) reason medical personnel refer to them as "donorcycles"...
If you're really into it, you can throw an electric assist motor on.
No wait, scratch that, just looked up the word "commissioned"... So if they release it in 1914, they'll have hit the nail straight on. Good on them!
It would be ideal to become an autonomous vehicle. Most people drive to work by themselves and use a car instead of a motorbike for protection from the elements and collisions.
Imagine how much more efficient the road network would be if it was filled with autonomous gyro-stabilized motorbikes/whatever this is.
Country A will insist that it's a motorbike, require you to wear a helmet and have an enhanced heavy bike licence (because of it's top speed)
Country B will insist that it's a car and require seatbelts, airbags etc.
Country C will only allow electric bikes that have a top speed of 15m/h
You certainly mean km/h.
The numbers don't work out, the logistics don't work out, and the infrastructure doesn't work out. The future of transit is obviously not cars: not normal 4 wheeled cars, not flying cars, not fancy gyro stabilized two wheeled cars.
Ideas otherwise are quaint turn of the century throwbacks that ceased making sense anywhere in non-rural a very long time ago.
And, of course, if you're using them for regenerative breaking, then they'll have less headroom to counter tilting forces. If you saturate them with regen load then they won't provide any stabilizing force at all. I hope it has a couple of really beefy power resistors in case the ECU suddenly has to bleed off gyro load in a way that won't cause an uncommanded acceleration.
A vehicle like this has most of the advantages of a scooter, without the obvious shortcomings. It could fill the same role in the vehicle mix in countries where weather, safety concerns or cultural factors make motor scooters unpopular.
Most car journeys involve a single occupant. That's a luxury we've been able to afford until now, but lugging around four empty seats is seeming ever more wasteful.
The problem, as always, is cost. My family manages with one vehicle plus public transit, but that vehicle has to be big (people and cargo and distance). Most of the time we could use something smaller, but the minority use case is enough to require the behemoth.
If it were cheap enough, we could really use three vehicles: a commuter, an efficient four-seater, and a seldom used cargo/distance vehicle. That's not how the economics work out, though, so one vehicle has to serve all the purposes.
The dangers of that are roughly similar to a blowout in a normal car, momentary but nearly complete loss of control.
The angular momentum of the wheels is what keeps it upright (laterally). This is different to the Segway which used the motors to control the forward-backward tilt with position input from a gyro (actually an accelerometer)
"In final production form, the combined force of the pair of gyros will max out at around 1,300 pound-feet, enough to keep the C1 vertical while stopped"
[BTW, the article I linked to mentions that the gyroscopic effect is not solely responsible for stability in ordinary bicycles. There is a site of a guy easily riding a bicycle with an opposite turning plate next to the front wheel to cancel out the gyroscopic effect demonstrating this, although I can't find it.
Edit. Here: http://www2.eng.cam.ac.uk/~hemh/gyrobike.htm ]
If they are really smart with this, and if the gyros are up to the task, they could use them for ultra fast charging as well.