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Thread: This Is the Gyro-Stabilized, Two-Wheeled Future of Transportation

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    Rusted plasmabhai's Avatar
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    Default This Is the Gyro-Stabilized, Two-Wheeled Future of Transportation

    Exclusive: This Is the Gyro-Stabilized, Two-Wheeled Future of Transportation



    Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired


    ALAMEDA, California – If you’re anything like me, you value your life. Which means you’ve probably avoided motorcycles despite their stellar fuel economy, small footprint and ability to weave through traffic like a snake through grass. But the benefits of riding a bike are often outweighed by their inherent vulnerability, not to mention the lack of creature comforts and cargo capacity.

    Lit Motors aims to change that.
    This is the C1, the first prototype from San Francisco-based Lit Motors. It’s a fully electric, fully enclosed two-wheeled two-seater. And when the production version arrives in 2014, the C1 will come complete with airbags, a seatbelt and a smartphone-connected infotainment system. But that’s not the cool part.

    Underneath the passenger compartment are two gyroscopes that keep the C1 constantly upright. That means it stays standing while stopped and can pirouette through traffic like the best from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.

    How much force would it take to knock the C1 on its side? According to Lit, a small elephant would have to hit it broadside to put the C1 on the ground.

    The C1 prototype you see here is rear-wheel-drive for now, but the production version will be all-wheel-drive (two-wheel, if you prefer), with power provided by a hub-mounted electric motor good for 110 horsepower. Weighing in at between 800 and 900 pounds in production spec, Lit estimates a zero-to-60-mph time of around six seconds, with a 120-mph top speed and a range of 220 miles between charges thanks to the 8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted in the floor. Charge times vary depending on your outlet, with a household standard 120V juicing the C1 up in around 6 hours or around 4 hours using the 220V outlet powering your dryer.

    It all sounds too good to be true, which is why I’ve trekked across the bay to Alameda, California, for an exclusive spin in the C1.

    Measuring in around 115 inches long and 40 inches wide, the C1 feels larger on the inside than its dimensions suggest. While the C1 concept Lit Motors has been showing (built by the same team behind the refreshed Light Cycles in Tron) packs seating for two, the rear throne is more of glorified shelf than a proper bucket. In the prototype, a series of computers and controls occupy the rear passenger area, all of which will be mounted underneath the floor panel once production begins.
    The rough hand-bent aluminum and steel body panels and piecemeal chassis framing are simply a way to test all the various systems, motors, gyros and suspension components. Understand, this C1 is a rolling proof of concept; a two-wheeled testbed of technology that allows the team to tweak and iterate all the various hardware and software as they get closer to a final product.

    Which is why it broke on us – thrice.

    After an initial drive by Lit Motors founder and CEO Danny Kim, the C1 suffered a software glitch that only allowed one of the gyros to function properly. After an engineer whipped out a laptop, performed a series of tests and reset the system, we got the go-ahead.
    And then a belt broke.


    Daniel Kim, Lit Motors Founder and CEO. Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired

    While it’s doubtful Kim and his team were pleased with the C1′s debut-day glitches, it gave us a chance to see the hardware that keeps the bike upright as the Lit team completely removed the gyro magic from the chassis.

    In its current form, the two gyros each put out 266 pound-feet of torque as they spin, keeping the C1 upright no matter the speed or angle. 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, at steady-state cruising and planted to the road at a maximum lean angle of 45 degrees.

    The ability to simply pull the entire gyro setup from the chassis is a design decision that will make it to production, allowing the C1 to be serviced quickly and efficiently, much like the battery pack mounted to the floor of the Tesla Model S. It also helps when something goes awry during its maiden voyage in the eager hands of someone outside the Lit Motors studio.

    Being a prototype, battery capacity on this lone tester is currently capped at 3kWh, with the rear motor outputting around 75 hp. Current weight, sans windshield, side windows and a glass panel that will make up the roof, will be around 800 to 900 pounds in final form, but currently, the stripped-down prototype is tipping the scales at around 650 pounds, or close to 800 pounds with driver.


    The C1's front wheel/tire combo. Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired

    The suspension and brake components are a mashup of production bits pulled from existing motorcycles and custom built, machined aluminum pieces Lit Motors developed in-house. The front wheel/tire combo is donated from a Ducati 848, while the massive rear meat comes off a Harley-Davidson Fatboy.

    Included in the system is a patented regenerative braking setup that uses the gyros as kinetic capacitors that tap out around 86-percent efficiency. The regen effort will be honed over the coming months to provide a subtle amount of “engine braking,” much like you’d experience in a traditional bike or one of the handful of electric vehicles currently on the market.

    With the belt replaced and the gyros whirring away, I opened up the thin door, slipped into the Eames-style classroom seat and was greeted by a traditional array of controls.
    There’s a Momo steering wheel connected to an exposed steering shaft that turns the front wheel, with a few displays, toggle switches and wiring coalescing into the makeshift dash. Below that are two traditional pedals – a brake and accelerator – which makes the C1′s cabin familiar, if sparse.


    A Harley-Davidson Fatboy tire and wheel on the rear of the C1. Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired

    I’ve been informed by Kim and Co. that I need to sit bolt upright, otherwise the gyros — working at a much lower capacity than their production counterparts — won’t be able to keep the C1 steady if I’m constantly shifting my weight.
    Visibility up front and to the sides is phenomenal, although the aluminum panel out back means rearward vision is all but nonexistent, particularly with the lack of a rearview or wing mirrors.

    I stretch a bit to reach the steering wheel when I’m given the green light to push the throttle. It takes a bit of force to get the C1 moving, but once underway, it moves with the kind of smoothness I’ve come to expect from other EVs.
    I’m told to keep the speeds low, so I cautiously give it more throttle and hit maybe 10 mph before pressing firmly on the brakes to bring the C1 to a halt.
    While the gyros mean the C1 stays standing even while stopped, there’s an additional benefit over a traditional bike: reverse. A metal switch on the dash allows me to switch from forward to reverse, and within a second I’m hauling backward at an impressive clip.


    The C1's gyro-stabilizers. Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired

    Another stop, another flick of the directional switch and I get back up to speed quickly before coming to a stop once again. Because of an issue with the gyros, I’m unable to test its ability to handle a few turns.

    Mildly disappointed but still impressed, I throw it into reverse again, back up to the starting point and hop out. The C1 stays standing as my weight shifts from the floor panel to the ground; the body twitching almost imperceptibly to keep itself righted.
    Yes, the C1 works as advertised, but there’s obviously much more to do before it’s ready for primetime.

    This first C1 prototype is the work of Kim and his half-dozen-strong team, along with an initial investment of around $200,000.
    Lit Motors will need millions more to complete the next round of testing and upgrades, along with getting the interior and sound deadening sorted, the all-wheel-drive system functional and the rest of the body components up to production spec. Not to mention getting the C1 50-state legal, something a partnership with a major automaker would certainly help along.

    But the seed has been planted, the hardware works and in two years’ time, you and I could be among the first to plunk down the $24,000 Lit Motors estimates the C1 will cost.

    I’m smitten, if skeptical. But if this is the future of personal transport, I’m all on board.
    Read the complete story here: Exclusive: This Is the Gyro-Stabilized, Two-Wheeled Future of Transportation | Autopia | Wired.com



    Personal view point:

    Using gyroscopes to keep the bike balanced no-matter-what is pretty cool technology and as the article shows, the proof of concept definitely works! But is this how I want my future motorcycle to be like? Absolutely not! because when I am on a motorcycle I want to be open to the elements, its a part of the whole deal. Had I wanted air bags and smartphone connected infotainment system, I would have bought a damn car! But still I feel that this is a step in the right direction and may lead to a product which I will want because it may bring in new handling characteristics for our two-wheeled loves and that is always a good thing!

    Msg to mods:
    I have added my own personal view point because :-
    1) Even though this is not your traditional run-of-the-mill news article in the sense that the vehicle is at least two years from production, what interested me is the technology which has been shown to work and has the potential, if not the promise, to change a lot of what we understand by the term motorcycling
    AND
    2) I had an opinion about the current article which I would have made anyway in the comments
    Also note that the original article also has a video but it did not work on my browser (due to a probable plugin problem?) but may work in yours (YMMV ), in any case I could not include the video part in the quote above though.
    Last edited by plasmabhai; 05-30-2012 at 04:40 AM.

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    Moderator Samarth 619's Avatar
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    Topic Approved.

    I think that instead of gyroscopes, a speed sensor along with a retractable rectangular tyre between the two wheels (can be used as main stand too) would've been a better way. I mean, when its standing it has 3 wheels touching the ground, and when it moves beyond 5 kmph, the middle wheel moves up. And on slowing down, it comes back. Something like Piaggio MP3, but without 3 wheel drive all the time. Also, such stands could be activated electronically too.

    It should've been much lesser headache this way but again, I have not tested it, and prototyping is a tricky process with problems every now and then. Hence, their achievement is worth applauding.

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    Rusted Newrider88's Avatar
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    I think i have seen this thing on national geographic channel but it was a fully developed and good looking model. This one needs some makeover

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    Addicted NiXTriX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samarth 619 View Post
    Topic Approved.

    I think that instead of gyroscopes, a speed sensor along with a retractable rectangular tyre between the two wheels (can be used as main stand too) would've been a better way. I mean, when its standing it has 3 wheels touching the ground, and when it moves beyond 5 kmph, the middle wheel moves up. And on slowing down, it comes back. Something like Piaggio MP3, but without 3 wheel drive all the time. Also, such stands could be activated electronically too.

    It should've been much lesser headache this way but again, I have not tested it, and prototyping is a tricky process with problems every now and then. Hence, their achievement is worth applauding.
    This would be fantastic. Similar to an aircraft's landing gear. However, I think 2 additional smaller wheels on either side would be more stable than 1. Think something like attaching small wheels to your main stand legs or side wheels to your training bicycle. The major problems I can foresee are as follows
    1. Stowage area for the wheels.
    2. Additional weight.
    3. Additional cost.
    4. Which experienced biker would actually use these?
    Live to ride.. ride to forget..


    Ignorance is an excuse, stupidity isn't

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    Rusted princesirohi's Avatar
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    nice concept.

    suppose you are standing still....and gyro fails errr.... you can't keep your feet on ground for support... i wonder how you will feel.

    oops

    hmmn what am i talking about ...a bike with steering wheel, next they will add two more wheels, no no not like two front and two rear, instead one on left side and one on right side to balance it...and still call it a bike.

    my pulsar will die in shame.

    will it be cheaper than a nano? or more comfortable than a nano ?

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    Addicted Enthusiast's Avatar
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    Default You don't have to balance and you don't get wet

    Lit Motors thinks we're just driving around in too much car.

    Founder Daniel Kim thinks the answer is to reduce the size of our vehicles dramatically, along with their number of wheels.

    So Lit Motors is developing what looks a lot like a motorcycle, but with several traits from a car: You don't have to balance and you don't get wet. They call this model the C-1 and the full-size running prototype is, admittedly, in a very basic state. But here we see the sort of thinking that is perhaps just this side of too radical, while performing drastic surgery on what of the last great areas of waste in our daily lives: The amount of car we lug around for no particular reason.

    CNET Conversations is part of a CBS Interactive special reporting project.
    I like Daniel Kim, he wants to change things but isn't up "there" in a world of intangibles. He began his career as a Land Rover mechanic and, like Steve Jobs, did a little coursework at Reed College in Oregon before moving on (probably bored with the routine progression of college.) He's assembled a team of about a dozen people in a old warehouse in San Francisco that looks like a poster child for urban renewal.
    The C-1 is up against some long odds to be sure: Aside from printing "motorcycle" (which will do it few favors in the U.S. market), I also came to realize there's a significant mental hurdle to trusting a two-wheeled vehicle to keep itself upright with you in it. By unseen magic. In traffic. But change has to start somewhere and what Lit's working on is at least part of the new attitude toward everyday vehicles we need to embrace, two wheels, three or four.

    Lit Motors thinks we're just driving around in too much car. | CNET Conversations - CNET News
    1) 1999 Suzuki Samurai
    2) 2005 Bajaj Pulsar DTSI 180 (G2)
    3) 2007 Baja Pulsar DTSI 200
    4) 2008 Yamaha Gladiator 125cc
    5) 2009 Yamaha YZF R15
    6) 2009 Honda CBR600RR, Phoenix Edition
    7) 2011 Ducati Monster 796
    8) ???

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    Moderator Samarth 619's Avatar
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    Enthusiast's Topic Approved and merged to Lit Motors' existing thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by NiXTriX View Post
    This would be fantastic. Similar to an aircraft's landing gear. However, I think 2 additional smaller wheels on either side would be more stable than 1. Think something like attaching small wheels to your main stand legs or side wheels to your training bicycle. The major problems I can foresee are as follows
    1. Stowage area for the wheels.
    2. Additional weight.
    3. Additional cost.
    4. Which experienced biker would actually use these?
    Well, I mentioned rectangular tyre, which means it would require only one tyre, which can stand tall on its own, like a car/ truck's tyre.

    Rest of your reasons are justified, but again, when we're fitting in a Gyro, it already occupies a lot of space.

    And these concepts are more for the car guys, who want a cabin around them. So, the extra size, weight, etc. is totally justified, not to us, but to THEM CAGERS.

    As far as we the bikers are concerned, yeah, we're not getting EVEN an Automatic Gearbox bike anytime soon, leave alone a bike with gyro powered balancers.

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