The eniCycle is an electric unicycle that balances fun and utility
By Alan Brandon
August 26, 2009
The eniCycle is the latest entry in the increasingly crowded self-stabilizing electric unicycle market. Developed by Slovenian inventor Aleksander Polutnik, the eniCycle has Segway-like balancing capabilities but only a single wheel. With its three-hour battery and lean-to-go controls, this diminutive one-wheeler prototype brings Jetsons-type technology one step closer to reality.
The eniCycle features a seat mounted over a wheel like a standard pedal-type unicycle. In between is a battery pack, control unit, and coil spring suspension. There are no pedals on the EniCycle, only pegs for your feet. To steer the EniCycle, you simply press on the footpeg in the direction you want to go. Speed is controlled by leaning: to go forward, lean forward; to slow down, lean back. Polutnik claims you can learn to ride it in 30 minutes.
The eniCycle features a more upright posture compared with other electric mono-wheeled vehicles we’ve seen such as the UnoMoto, which looks something like a motorcycle, and the egg-like Bombadier EMBRIO concept. Like the Segway, the eniCycle seems best suited to urban or campus transport.
Polutnik has built two prototypes so far, and says that they use many off-the-shelf parts. Propulsion comes from a 1000W brushless hub motor powered by a battery pack made up of standard D-size NiMH batteries. The inventor claims that the battery pack recharges in 5 hours and provides up to 3 hours of run time. In addition, the inventor says the eniCycle recharges the battery while coasting downhill.
The balancing and lean-sensing features of the eniCycle are enabled by micro-electro-mechanical (MEM) gyroscopes and accelerometers. These components are similar to the technology used in automobile air-bag sensors and videogame controllers. The sensors are harnessed together by Polutnik’s customer electronics package and software.
eniCycle prototype specifications:
The eniCycle website indicates that a first production run is planned for this year. No pricing information has been released.