Here at BEVI we are not only interested in the electric car, but in all electric vehicles available on the market. This summer the BEVI interns have focused their research and attention on smaller and more cost-effective EVs, such as the electric assist bicycle. An electric assist bicycle is just like any other bike you pedal, except there is battery operated motor powering the back wheel. The motor is there only when you need it: to help with long distances, biking up hills, or even just to make it to work without breaking a sweat. Electric assist bicycles promote physical movement, are an affordable alternative to cars, and help reduce traffic. We see the electric assist bicycles as the “last mile” solution, the vehicle that connects people to other modes of transit on their daily commute.
Developed at MIT, The Copenhagen Wheel is a rear wheel that transforms your preexisting bike into an electric assist bike. The wheel itself contains a motor, batteries, sensors, bluetooth technology, and an embedded control system. According to their website, the wheel “learns how you pedal and integrates seamlessly with your motion, multiplying your pedal power 3-10x.” The wheel comes with an app that enables you to control your speed, track your usage, and allows you to unlock or lock your wheel. Additionally, every customer has access to a software development kit that encourages the developers among them to create their own innovative applications. What’s most compelling to me is that anyone can turn their bike into an electric assist bike, making electric vehicles accessible to more people.