Computational creativity and the future of AI

Tito Lucas Scott treats us to another off-the-wall monowheeler: The OWheel


June 23, 2009

Tito Lucas Ott's OWheel design

Tito Lucas Ott's OWheel design

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Brazillian Tito Lucas Ott, the (mad?) inventor behind the highly scary Wheelsurf monowheeler, has been in touch with us again about his newest project, which is no less bizarre. The OWheel operates somewhat like a Segway, but with the distinct advantage of looking like you're hoisting mad wheelies everywhere. To ride it, you stand on the footboards, lean back to engage the "training wheels" and then lean forward to start accelerating the electric drive to a max speed around 40kmh. The Owheel's first prototype is under construction and Tito's putting together big plans for manufacturing and global distribution - but it looks like it's got the same key issue as the Wheelsurf; Tito doesn't seem to believe in stopping very quickly. But he does have a serious ability to inspire the letters W, T and F.

Tito Lucas Ott has been working for a year now on the OWheel project, and is ready to start on a prototype. The 30kg device is mainly comprised of a large frame, standing board, a single wheel and a pair of fixed handlebars mounted to a second "wheel" that's permanently waving around in the air.

Ott will be fitting it with an equilibrium-based acceleration device similar to that of a Segway, such that when the OWheel is leaned backwards, a brake is engaged as well as two rear stabilizer wheels, but as you lean forward it gathers speed and eventually lifts off the stabilizer wheels to self-balance. Ott expects riding the device to feel something like windsurfing. Steering is done by leaning left and right, and promises to be a fairly white-knuckle affair with little option to turn quickly.

For braking, you lean backwards until the stabilizer wheels touch the ground, and then apply a brake. All the same, it's probably appropriate to keep Ott's words of advice for riding his earlier Wheelsurf invention in mind: "If you're going downhill, you will need to be extra careful. From experience, I never let the Wheelsurf gain speed down a hill.... it's similar to the same precautions a skateboarder takes going down a hill."

Lord help you if the OWheel starts getting away from you on a slope as well - but Ott is a man of endless optimism and enthusiasm, and such details aren't likely to stop him building this weird and wonderful device.

The Wheelsurf was said to take about 30 minutes to get comfortable with, and much longer to master - and we'd expect by looking at it that you'll burn through a few 40-minute battery charges on the OWheel before you feel comfortable enough to take it down to the beach and enjoy its effect on the joggers. And that will likely be its greatest strength - this thing is sure to blow a few WTF-meters off the scale. Nice work, Tito!

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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