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Heavy Duty Electric Unicycle Maker Takes On Segway 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the battle-of-the-ages dept.
formaggio writes "Designer Chris Hoffmann developed the Ryno, a heavy duty electric unicycle with a top speed of 25 mph, a range of up to 30 miles and an impressive 25-inch thick tire. The cost for a pre-production Ryno is a whopping $25,000, and Hoffmann already has five orders, but he expects the market model to cost about $3,500."
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Heavy Duty Electric Unicycle Maker Takes On Segway

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  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:09PM (#38028440) Journal

    I'm trying to post from my phone while controlling the unicycle using only my ass. It takes some skill but I think I got it under con^C^C NO CARRIER

  • BC Comic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:10PM (#38028448)

    When looking at the pictures does anyone get the feeling of the BC Comic?

    • by aevan (903814)
      Not directly..more the game based off it..jumping logs, ducking branches..and trying to cross rivers on turtle back...that alone almost makes me want to get one.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by xerxesVII (707232)

      Not enough ham-fisted christian proselytizing.

      • by Jeremi (14640)

        Not enough ham-fisted christian proselytizing.

        I never figured out how cavemen could be Christians. The name of the strip stands for Before Christ, for chrissake.

        • IIRC, BC actually takes place in a future post-apocalyptic setting, not the distant past. Wrap your brain around that.

    • by Tetsujin (103070)

      When looking at the pictures does anyone get the feeling of the BC Comic?

      If you want the "BC" experience, there are unicycles that are very much like what appeared in the comic - that is, a wheel with an axle that you stand on. They actually do call them "BC" unicycles.

      Those things scare me a little. :)

      • Re:BC Comic (Score:5, Informative)

        by Lemming Mark (849014) on Friday November 11, 2011 @06:52PM (#38030882) Homepage

        I got one; I've generally heard it called a "BC wheel" or an "Impossible Wheel". Could never get the hang of riding the thing - with a normal unicycle (or even its cousin the Ultimate Wheel) you can put pressure on the pedals to stop the unicycle whizzing off and leaving you to fall to the ground. With a BC wheel you just have to balance incredibly well - it's hard. Some people (often younger people, I think) can pick up the balance quite quickly.

        Some folks made an ace video of some properly skillful BC riding:
        http://vimeo.com/7390720 [vimeo.com]

        I like seeing unicycles mentioned on Slashdot because balance sports generally seem to be enjoyed by tech-minded people. I suspect it's because they can require an intense but non-intellectual concentration - and possibly because they are non-competitive, unconventional and still easy to enjoy even when there's nobody else to join in.

        • I got one; I've generally heard it called a "BC wheel" or an "Impossible Wheel". Could never get the hang of riding the thing - with a normal unicycle (or even its cousin the Ultimate Wheel) you can put pressure on the pedals to stop the unicycle whizzing off and leaving you to fall to the ground. With a BC wheel you just have to balance incredibly well - it's hard.

          Heh, suddenly I'm tempted to try and learn it. Though I don't know where I'd practice these days... As a kid I never really spent a lot of time trying to develop those kinds of skills (apart from learning unicycle, I mean - I didn't learn to do much in the way of unicycle tricks, for instance). But when I see people practicing skateboard tricks and stuff - just hanging around, trying things, possibly hurting themselves and getting up to do it again - I can easily imagine those people riding a BC. I know

  • All i can see happening is an improved version of the Segway Faceplant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3gGav63_sE [youtube.com]

    Wonder how long these devices will be made for before being sued out of existence, but then again Segway, Inc is doing alright. Out of curiosity aside from looking really cool and all, what exactly is the advantage of having one wheel vs two? It looks like it performs about the same as a low speed scooter.

    • Out of curiosity aside from looking really cool and all, what exactly is the advantage of having one wheel vs two?

      Easier tire replacement?

      (Seriously, this is a silly novelty vehicle)

    • by kryliss (72493)

      So could we consider a Segway Faceplant to be a Segplant?

    • by boristdog (133725)

      Less weight, less rolling resistance, smaller footprint, I imagine. The bigger wheel lets you roll over more surfaces, bumps, etc.

      Get the speed and range up with a price under $4k and you have an awesome commuter vehicle alternative.

      • by stomv (80392)

        For urban-to-urban commuting, the 25 mph top speed is sufficient. Urban roadways have a speed limit of 30 mph and, during rush hour, rarely hit that speed due to the congestion. For suburban-to-urban commuting, 25 mph ain't going to cut it.

    • In general it is taking the space of a single person. Allows this to be rode where people are normally walking. as TFA points out its key advantage over the Segway is that you can sit down on it so it can be drove longer.

      • The other advantage the article points out is that it takes considerably less materials to build the Ryno. So it's more "green" and potentially cheaper to build.
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Takes up less space, therefore easier to park or carry in another vehicle. But then, my reaction to the Segway was, "If you just added a third wheel, you could make it a lot cheaper AND safer." I think the same argument applies to this: adding a small wheel up front would make it turn better and be less susceptible to faceplanting during a sudden stop. I've missed curb cuts on my bike and gone over the handlebars; I can only imaging what hitting an obstacle at 25mph on this would be like. Oh wait... it woul
  • Does it take voice commands and say "Roger, Roger"? It really reminds of a cross between battle droids and droid decar with a cyborg feel to it.

    Wonder how it would handle off road or on sand?

  • For Super rating on the post, i'll just copy the good HAD comments here, all in one post!

    "It’s like a high-powered Segway and a unicycle got it on"

    "Looks amazing.
    But what a “face plant” under heavy braking."

    "20 mph top speed with a 30 mile range?
    try a bicycle."

    "Monocycle perhaps?"

    "It’s a darn good thing the Ryno comes with a Windshield so you can use it in the rain! "

    http://hackaday.com/2010/08/20/electric-motorcycle-rocks-one-wheel/ [hackaday.com]

    • That windshield is so obviously useless, I wonder if it's sole purpose is to satisfy some strange state motor-safety standard.
      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        The windshield on any sport motorcycle is useful only for its *named* purpose, to deflect wind ever so slightly up as to be less of a nuisance to the rider. Any sport bike rider who can actually use their windshield for looking through probably uses it to commute to the circus. Have you ever wondered why they dont bother putting a wiper on them?

  • Trevor Blackwell built both a couple of two-wheeled versions, but also built a unicycle about half a decade ago. He just figured "If Dean builds it with two wheels, and I can build one with two wheels, I'm gonna build one with one wheel":
    Two wheeled original version [tlb.org]
    Unicycle version [tlb.org]

    Check out the video link on the Unicycle page, it's pretty amusing to watch him try and stop.
    • How would this be better than a short wheelbase bike (which would inherently have more stability)? Yes you can do a quick 180 turn, but how often is that necessary?
      I guess having a short rear - anti wheelie outrigger wheel (like those seen on wheelchairs) would take away the "magic" of the device, or make it seem less reliable.

      Somebody give me a convincing argument.

      • by xrayspx (13127)
        Well, I don't think Blackwell built his unicycle to be better than a bike, he built it because it was a neat experiment and because he could. He didn't even know how to ride a unicycle before building it, he learned to ride a unicycle just to try to build a powered unicycle. I don't think he'd ever suggest you like, buy one, or anything. He even gives full hardware specs and all the software he wrote to control his devices for free.
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:25PM (#38028616)

    At a market price at $3,500, it will take on Segway nicely. Still, the vast majority of people can get a bike for ~$100 and achieve similiar speeds. Even if they were to step up, it would be likely to some electric bike rather than one of these.

    If I really was hot for personal transport of this sort, a Sym Symba (quality Honda Cub knockoff) can at least achieve $50 and isn't much bigger, plus a $1k less. Gas powered though.

    When I was 16, I was thinking there has a market for an ultra small car, 1 passenger, if they can get it here for less than $5k or so. Just a town roundabout. Something that could achieve highway speeds but not much higher, like say 90mph, and any trunk space is minimal. When I see high school parking lots throughout the country with these big (sometimes initially expensive) clunkers.

    • 90 mph is not much higher than highway speeds?
      • by rolfwind (528248)

        Depends on the state and if you're climbing hills, where the real top speed is much lower than on flat ground.

    • I agree - that's going to be the vehicle that revolutionizes transportation. I would trade my Accord in an instant for a $5,000-or-less electric commuter car with room for 1-2 people. 99% of my travel is going to work and back and the occasional errand. My wife and I have a full-sized car for other reasons - vacations, moving things, traveling with the baby.. but we don't need two cars like this. I bet few people would.

      My commute and everyday errands don't even require highway travel, so a max speed of
      • I agree - that's going to be the vehicle that revolutionizes transportation. I would trade my Accord in an instant for a $5,000-or-less electric commuter car with room for 1-2 people. 99% of my travel is going to work and back and the occasional errand.

        Is $20,000 + close enough [mitsubishicars.com]?

        • by Builder (103701)

          Probably not, given that the parent is looking for $5000 and you're suggesting 4x5000

    • There are diminishing returns for cars as they shrink past the size of about a Toyota Corolla. The extra weight needed to meet federal crash standards (USA) on tiny cars wipes out their potential efficiency advantages. Just look at the Smart car as an example. The Honda fit has twice the room and still gets better mileage. The only real benefit of 1 person car would be its ability to squeeze into small spots.
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        My thoughts exactly. My daughter wants a Smart car; I keep saying I'll buy one when it's cheaper than and gets better gas mileage than my Honda Civic Hybrid (which seats 5 and gets 40 to 50 mpg). Until then, why should I pay more for a vehicle that carries less while using more fuel?
    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      When I was 16, I was thinking there has a market for an ultra small car, 1 passenger, if they can get it here for less than $5k or so. Just a town roundabout. Something that could achieve highway speeds but not much higher, like say 90mph, and any trunk space is minimal. When I see high school parking lots throughout the country with these big (sometimes initially expensive) clunkers.

      The biggest reason that will never ever be a reality is as soon as you turn a vehicle out on the highway, it needs to be able to stand up to every other kind of vehicle in a crash (motorcycles being the exception, but you knew that.) The Smart Car is probably the smallest practical vehicle the US will ever see on it's roads, unless the landscape dramatically changes (i.e. gas prices increase 5x.)

    • When I was 16, I was thinking there has a market for an ultra small car, 1 passenger, if they can get it here for less than $5k or so. Just a town roundabout. Something that could achieve highway speeds but not much higher, like say 90mph, and any trunk space is minimal. When I see high school parking lots throughout the country with these big (sometimes initially expensive) clunkers.

      Renault Twizy? [renault-ze.com]

  • my car tyres aren't 25 inches thick - or 25 inches wide for that matter. How about across/diameter - then we might be getting somewhere.
  • by cvtan (752695) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:30PM (#38028670)
    Can't stop fast and can't accelerate quickly. That's why motorcycles have at least two wheels, not because people weren't clever enough to make a powered unicycle before this.
    • Acceleration should be doable with a good computer control system. Forwards, stop, driver flips forward, then accelerate *hard* before he faceplants. Brakeing would still be a problem though. Brake too hard and you break the driver.
      • by nomel (244635)

        All goes well until you lose traction/limit your balancing torque. Some melted ice cream would be enough to faceplant a forward lean.

        • Also why the GM version of this (two wheels side-by-side) is a giant load of stupid unsuitable for high speeds (faster than walking) on real roads.
  • Gimmick (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:33PM (#38028702) Journal
    Other than the gimmick of being a unicycle, I don't see any advantage of this over a regular motor-bicycle. Big thick tires and a handle bar and lights.

    If instead of having a solid circular wheel, if the wheel had some variable geometry, (like the spokes were really linkages that could shrink or expand, if the spokes could be configured to create a notch some six inches deep) that be used to climb stairs, and once you reach the next level, the wheel becomes circular again, and you could roll along, then you are talking about something.

    • Now that's one of the most creative comments I've heard

      • by timeOday (582209)
        Snow Crash [technovelgy.com]:

        Smartwheels use sonar, laser range finding and millimeter wave radar to identify mufflers and other debris. Each one consists of a hub with many tiny spokes. Each spoke telescopes into five sections. On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom, swiveling on a ball joint. As the wheel rolls, the feet plant themselves one at a time, almost glomming into one continuous tire. If you surf over a bump, the spokes contract to roll over it. If you surf over a pothole, the rubber prongs probe

        • by Locke2005 (849178)
          Just one problem with this: to do this in real time while traveling at decent speeds doubles the energy consumption of the vehicle, much like active suspension. Technologically doable, yes (given sufficient development time and money), but you would use more energy pumping spokes in and out than propelling yourself forward.
      • re: variable wheel geometry, a multi-segment toroidal wheel (instead of a continuous, deformable wheel using shrinkable spokes) may be the way to go. air pressure could be dynamically varied in the toroid segments: pressure would reduce or increase in the segments to conform them to the terrain they are rolling over.

    • I recall Snow Crash had cars with wheels like that, though their purpose was to improve performance and comfort on unmaintained, decaying, pothole-cratered roads.
    • Ah yes. Snow Crash.

      But a tired unicycle might do much better on unimproved trails / paths / hills. Not everything is paved. Yet.

  • how do you stop it? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:39PM (#38028784)

    With a 25mph top speed, how do you stop it in a hurry without ending up face down on the ground?

    • Computer control to tilt you back.

      • by PPH (736903)
        Is there going to be a sufficient moment arm to produce adequate braking torque?
      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Computer control to tilt you back.

        That sounds like how you'd do a normal stop, how do you do a panic stop?

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          Computer control to tilt you back.

          That sounds like how you'd do a normal stop, how do you do a panic stop?

          And note that I've lifted the rear wheel of my motorcycle off the ground in a panic stop, so even if it tilts you all the way back so your back is touching the ground, it seems that you'd have limited stopping torque available.

          • And note that I've lifted the rear wheel of my motorcycle off the ground in a panic stop, so even if it tilts you all the way back so your back is touching the ground, it seems that you'd have limited stopping torque available.

            Consider this a built in safety feature. The vehicle pushes you into a recumbent position - butt down, feet forward - just before you crash into the wall / pedestrian / whatever. It's really the safest way to slide into something, assuming the something isn't an 18 wheeler.

        • You don't. At least not in the real world. In the world where physics begins and ends at closed-form first- or second-order approximations around the trim point, I'm sure there's a way.
  • and [ebay.com] many [ebay.com] other [ebay.com] things [ebay.com] take [ebay.com] on [ebay.com] thing [electric-bikes.com] too [google.com]

  • ..but I doubt that it will be allowed on the roads,just as the Segway is banned from many places, but it would be so cool see it parked in with a group of motorcycles.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Yeah, I want to be the first to ride up to a biker bar in full leathers on one of these, just to see how far their chins drop...
  • by Zenin (266666) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:16PM (#38029248) Homepage

    http://bpg-motors.com/ [bpg-motors.com]

    The Uno evolved into a transforming design, but the initial versions were almost identical to this newest effort.

    At least the Uno solved the face-plant issue; At high speeds it transforms into a traditional 2 wheeled motorcycle form.

  • ... and see Mr. Garrison's "it" [wikipedia.org]? With this creation you are, after all, riding something that looks to be shoved up your ass...
  • First thing this makes me think of is that scene with Lunch early in Dragonball Z...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT4H5qaWt0g [youtube.com]

    Blonde-psycho mode, hauling ass on a motor-unicycle, big bag of ill-gotten loot in one arm, bazooka in the other, getting chased by cops... Good times.

  • There is a picture create with Blender that looks quite similar, but with better colors: To the Competition [blender.org]
  • There is a picture create with Blender that looks quite similar, but with better colors: To the Competition [blender.org]
  • I would rather get a Focus Designs SBU for $2k less http://focusdesigns.com/design/ [focusdesigns.com] . It's smaller and light so I could just flip up the foot pegs, pick it up, step on public transit and use it to get around once I get to my destination. The Ryno just doesn't have a practical application. It's not fast enough to be used anywhere but residential neighborhoods, I highly doubt it's street legal and it's too dangerous to be on pedestrian sidewalks and walkways. What do you do with it when you get to your desti
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      "The SBU features rider head protection when the rider wears the proper helmet or head protection gear. " LOL!
  • i saw an early vid of the Uno, but none of these things can touch my electric bike I bought in China and shipped back here to the US. Even this one, which is low powered by Chinese standards (10 Amp, 48 volt battery) goes 25-30 miles and hour, has seats for two and can easily carry two people with little power loss. I ride it to work every day, then leave at 5 and go to my son's school, pick him up and we ride home across campus and on the road s to our apartment, getting home by 5:30. With this schedule I

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