2017 / Sustainable Living/environmental Preservation / Urban Sustainable Design / Professional

The Copenhagen Wheel

  • Prizes
    Silver in Media and Home Electronics/Robotics, Platinum in Sustainable Living/Environmental Preservation/Urban Sustainable Design, Gold in Design for Society/Design for Sustainability, Gold in Outdoor and Exercise Equipment/Bicycle and bicycle accessories
  • Company
    Superpedestiran, United States
  • Lead Designer
    Assaf Biderman
  • Design Team
    Rob Roy Sarah Kuehnle Horatio Han Jon Stevens
  • Project Link
  • Other credit
    Original Academic Project: Carlo Ratti Assaf Biderman Christine Outram

Over the next three decades, it is projected that the urban
population will rise to equal today’s global population. With this
growth, demand for urban transportation is expected to rise
more than 2.5-fold, meaning we will need 2.5 times capacity
on the roads just to keep congestion level. Recently, attention
has turned towards autonomous vehicles (AV); while
potentially impactful, these cars will not significantly reduce
congestion unless we rethink their form factor. With the
average US car at an occupancy of only 1.55 people per
vehicle, it is unlikely that a five-seater AV will be full 100% of
the time. We need smaller-scale vehicles that allow people to
move around dense environments in a more efficient and
individualized manner. The Copenhagen Wheel does just that.
Inspired by robotic exoskeletons, the Wheel is a semi-
autonomous vehicle condensed into a single red wheel. It
transforms almost any bike into a smart, electric hybrid by
replacing the rear wheel with its robotic technology. Beyond
utility, the simplistic form and effortless experience of riding
the Wheel were at the center of design efforts. In both its
physical form and electromechanics, The Wheel was designed
to preserve the pure experience of riding a bicycle, including
the delicate motions of balancing and steering. Special
sensors and computers learn how a rider pedals and integrate
organically with his or her motion, amplifying power up to ten
times. Personal data and ride modes are accessed through a
mobile app that communicates with the Wheel in real time.
This app provides a wealth of data to enhance cycling, from
physical wellness, to monitoring the quality of the road
network, to safety application. While it’s a complex robot with
hundreds of parts, all complexity was abstracted into a single
continuous shape painted with a single color.

Photo Credit: Superpedestiran
Credits: Original academic project: Carlo Ratti Assaf Biderman Christine Outram