In 2008, MIT’s SENSEable City Lab began exploring how small amounts of technology could improve the cycling experience and ultimately tackle the transportation problems that cities face.
The Copenhagen Wheel is a new emblem for sustainable urban mobility. Smart, responsive and elegant, it transforms ordinary bicycles quickly into hybrid e-bikes that allow cyclists to capture the energy dissipated while cycling and braking and save it for when they need a bit of a boost. The wheel also functions as a mobile sensing unit, mapping pollution levels, traffic congestion, and road conditions in real-time.
Controlled through your smart phone, the Copenhagen Wheel becomes a natural extension of a rider’s everyday life. Cyclists can use their phone to unlock and lock their bike, change gears and select how much the motor is assisting them.
Meanwhile, the wheel’s sensing unit is also capturing a cyclist’s effort level and information about their surroundings, including road conditions, carbon monoxide, NOx, noise, ambient temperature and relative humidity. Through accessing this data through their phone or the web cyclists can use it to plan healthier bike routes, to achieve their exercise goals or to meet up with friends on the go.
Lastly, cyclists can choose share their data with friends, or with their city – anonymously if they wish – thereby contributing to a fine-grained database of environmental information from which we can all benefit.
The Copenhagen Wheel was presented at the COP15 United Nations Climate Conference in 2009. It is currently in its third prototyping phase and will go commercial in 12 months, cost $500/wheel.