Check Out The Magic (And Technology) Behind Self-Balancing Electric Skateboard Onewheel

Every once in a while in this job you see something that just fucking blows your mind. Some invention that makes you wonder “How’d they think of that?” and then “How the hell did they actually get that to work?”

That’s how I felt the first time I saw Onewheel, the magical self-balancing electric skateboard that’s currently collecting backers on Kickstarter.

Onewheel is the brainchild of Kyle Doerksen, an electromechanical engineer and board sports enthusiast who previously worked at IDEO. Over the last several years, he’s been toying around with the idea of building a skateboard that would give users the ability to get around while feeling like they were surfing or skiing on powder.

The result is a beautiful and simply designed board that is smart enough to balance users standing still, but powerful enough to move up to 12 miles per hour when users lean to one side.

The Onewheel board has batteries under one foot and control electronics under the other. The control electronics have motion sensors — like what you would find in your iPhone — which run a control loop which tells the motor how to run and balance. The whole thing is powered by a powerful hub motor, which is about a 2,000-watt peak motor or 500 watts of continuous power. It’s all mounted on the type of wheel that would usually be used by a go kart.

While personal transportation and commuting wasn’t something that Doerksen originally had in mind for the Onewheel, a number of KickStarter backers plan to use the board for just that purpose. With that in mind, the team also plans to develop a mobile app with additional features to improve users’ commutes.

“Originally we thought of this as a recreational product. Kind of like, ‘Why do you surf?’ You don’t surf because you have to go somewhere, you surf because it’s awesome,” Doerksen said. “But our backers on KickStarter have shown us that they’re really interested in using it for commuting and so we’re developing some new features that will make it even better for that.”

Check out the video above to see how it works… then go pre-order your own Onewheel on KickStarter.