For years, bicycles have received various electric upgrades, so why not the skateboard? The Palo Alto-based team at Future Motion decided it was time to give the skateboard a high-tech makeover with the Onewheel, a self-balancing electric board that lets the rider feel as though they are gliding over fresh mountain powder or a glassy ocean wave.
Despite its simple appearance, the Onewheel hides some pretty complex engineering. With the wheel being the only true moving part, the rest of the machinery is hidden within to leave only the deck visible. When users lean forward to speed up or backward to slow down, the Onewheel takes advantage of gyro and accelerometer sensors and a computer processor to determine speed and steering. Regenerative braking helps to conserve energy, and the whole contraption is powered by a 48V Lithium Ion battery and can reach speeds of up to 12mph. Depending on the charger it can be ready to ride within 20 minutes to an hour and the body is made from CNC-milled aluminum, topped with Canadian maple, and manufactured within the U.S.
Unfortunately, the Onewheel can only operate for about 20 minutes on flat ground without having to be re-juiced, but the designers are working on improving upcoming iterations. According to the creators, learning how to operate the Onewheel takes far less time than a conventional skateboard, eliminating some of the scrapes, bruises, and public awkwardness that comes with rolling wheels and a crowd of onlookers. While it does not immediately appear to be capable of the same types of tricks standard boards can accomplish, you can never rule out the creativity of human beings to turn a mode of transportation into an art form.
The Onewheel is currently raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign, and can be pre-ordered for a donation of $1,299. The first units are expected to be shipped between August and September next year.