MIT designs "smart" bicycle wheel

MIT researchers have designed a Bluetooth-enabled bicycle wheel that allows riders to keep track of friends, fitness, traffic and smog via a series of integrated sensors.

The Copenhagen Wheel is also capable of storing and intelligently redeploying excess kinetic energy.

“Over the past few years we have seen a kind of biking renaissance, which started in Copenhagen and has spread from Paris to Barcelona to Montreal,” explained project director Carlo Ratti.

“It’s sort of like ‘Biking 2.0’ — whereby cheap electronics allow us to augment bikes and convert them into a more flexible, on-demand system.”

?According to Ratti, the Wheel uses a technology similar to the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which has radically changed Formula One racing over the past couple of years. ??

“When you brake, your kinetic energy is recuperated by an electric motor and then stored by batteries within the wheel, so that you can have it back to you when you need it,” said Ratti.

“The bike wheel contains all you need so that no sensors or additional electronics need to be added to the frame and an existing bike can be retrofitted with the blink of an eye.”

The Copenhagen Wheel – which was developed in cooperation with Ducati Energia and the Italian Ministry of the Environment – is expected to enter production during 2010.

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