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Copenhagen Wheel: MIT Unveils the Swiss Army Knife of Bike Wheels
Photography by Maxtomasinelli
The Copenhagen Wheel, unveiled today by MIT students at the COP15 Climate Change Conference, may not look like anything special. But in reality, it’s a treasure trove of bicycle wheel technology, complete with a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), sensors, a smart lock, and a Bluetooth connection to the rider’s iPhone.
The KERS system is activated when the user brakes. Energy from the braking action is stored in the wheel, where it can be recovered by an electric motor for later use. The wheel’s onboard sensors monitor bike speed, distance traveled, direction, pollution levels, and proximity of friends on the road. All info collected by the sensors is sent via Bluetooth to the rider’s iPhone, which can be mounted on the handlebars for easy access.
Worried about using such a high-tech wheel in theft-prone cities? The Copenhagen Wheel’s smart lock sends a text message to users if someone tries to steal the bike, greatly decreasing the likelihood of a successful theft.
The wheel is expected to go into production next year at a price comparable to that of standard electric bikes. The city of Copenhagen might even use bikes retrofitted with the wheel as a substitute for city employee cars — a lofty goal, but one that could help Copenhagen become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital city by 2025.
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