Historians agree the bicycle was most likely invented in the 1860s by French carriage makers Pierre and Ernest Michaux. Early bicycles were made out of iron but today’s modern bicycles are made from light weight metals such as titanium, aluminum and composite materials such as carbon fiber. In the near future integration of both power assist and intelligence could become standard features of a new bicycle.
One such innovative technology is the Copenhagen Wheel designed by researchers at MIT’s Senseable City Lab. The Copenhagen Wheel uses a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) to store energy in a self-contained unit that can be easily retrofitted for use with a standard bicycle. Kinetic energy is captured when braking or pedaling and stored for use by the device’s electric motor. The electric motor provides cyclist assistance when climbing hills or can add a boost of acceleration when needed. How long the battery lasts depends on your weight, the terrain travelled and how often the battery assist function is used. The developers calculate if you weigh about 150 lbs. and use half battery power over moderate hills the wheel charge will last approximately 5 hours. The batteries can also be charged in a household wall socket. Intelligence built into the wheel allows synchronization with a Bluetooth enabled smartphone. The wheel can capture pedaling effort, road conditions and even carbon monoxide levels in the environment. The embedded video offers a preview of the Copenhagen Wheel.