back to article MIT student unicycles, Segway-style

A student at MIT has created a nearly self-balancing electric unicycle, imitating the kind of stability control seen in the Segway. Demonstrated in a YouTube video, the “Bullet” unicycle, created by MIT student Stephan Boyer, can’t manage to be self-balancing sideways, but does protect the rider from falling over in the …


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  1. VeganVegan

    Well! If you insist on

    running over helmets and sundry other road hazards, nothing will protect you.

  2. Eddy Ito
    Thumb Up

    Nice link, thanks

    I really like riding tip 5;

    "When you first press the safety switch, Bullet will assume an upright position as fast as it can, even if you are in the way. So don't be in the way (it can run into your ankles or run over your foot)!"

    I'm assuming, considering the seat height, standing to the side and not square on while powering in on is a given.

    1. laird cummings


      Wincing at the thought of a battery-powered gyro-stabilized hang-check.

  3. Local Group

    Just a suggestion

    As the rider will never pedal this vehicle, I'd replace the pedals with pegs and add training wheels, called something extremely cool.

  4. Aqua Marina

    Go team Jacob

    How come one of the werewolves appeared the moment a girl turned up?

  5. mattb

    Ian Healy

    One of the cricket commentators (Ian Healy) decided to have a go on the Segway around the pitch the following day (while the cameraman was being interviewed about his crash), and ... well you can guess what happened next...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    replace the wheel...

    ...with a ball and it'd be self-righting in all directions.

    1. Local Group

      A maglev seat & thought control steering...

      a consummation devoutly to be wished.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      ..and go crab-style

      The way a uni balances sideways is via torso twist, which changes wheel rolling direction, allowing the contact patch to be translated side to side (while the wheel is turning, anyway). Actual turning is difficult because total angular momentum must be added in one direction and then removed, using only a tiny friction patch in contact with the ground. The turn is achieved via a combination of friction and "carving." It's a bit hard to describe, but the rubber tread must do some scraping during each turn, which is actually audible if you listen closely.

      A ball-wheel that can be driven in any direction is great, the payolad can stay balanced, but true turning becomes nearly impossibe due to the large friction patch preventing any actual angular change. Making the ball low-friction doesn't help because the turn-carving action depends on the wheel's shape to work, which won't be present on a radially symetric ball.

      The result is that you can easily go any direction, but you can only face one way. Hmmm, sounds kinda cool, actually...

      1. Robin Bradshaw

        A robot that balances on a ball wont work you say, I guess i just imagined this

        1. Local Group

          Cool Demo. Thanks

          I wonder if those three angled rubber drivers are any good at going uphill?

          It would be great, tho, for keeping the dog out of the kitchen. :o)

  7. John 62

    Real reason the cameraman crashed:

    God doesn't like moving wide angle shots.

    Remember the 11th commandment: If thou shootst wide angle, thou mustst keep it damn well static!

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