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BajaBoard Electric skateboard set to rock
Orders are already piling up for a 50km/h BajaBoard that costs $4750
24 Apr 2015
By IAN PORTER
A NEW Melbourne-made electric vehicle will hit the roads in June when ambitious start-up company BajaBoard International launches its first four-wheel drive, all-terrain skateboard.
Believed to be the most powerful electric skateboard produced to date, the BajaBoard carries a 12kW motor and is capable of reaching 50km/h.
It is also the first powered skateboard with a fully independent suspension set-up and 60mm of travel to handle off-road surfaces. The BajaBoard has a range of between 15 and 20 kms.
The company is currently turning our pre-production prototypes as it fine-tunes its manufacturing systems, said technical director James Murphy.
Speaking at a Swinburne University electric vehicle open day, Mr Murphy told GoAuto production of its extreme skateboard would start at the end of April, with orders already rolling in.
“We already have 50 pre-orders, mostly from the US, and we haven’t started marketing yet,” said Mr Murphy.
The skateboards are about 80 per cent locally sourced and will be assembled in the MTM factory in Oakleigh, which also makes the home-grown TomCar off-road vehicle.
Priced from US$3700 ($A4750) the BajaBoard is a serious toy, but Mr Murphy thinks demand could reach as many as 1000 BajaBoards a year.
“There are plenty of electric skateboards on the market, but the BajaBoard is quite different,” he said.
“No-one else in the world has done suspension on a skateboard before. Other powered boards on the market don’t have as much power or control or the high speed stability.”
Like its relatively basic predecessors, the BajaBoard steers by the rider tilting the deck, but its clever drive system can enhance a turn.
“It steers by the inclination of the board,” Mr Murphy said.
“Also, you can take the lean angle, especially at low speed, and you can mix the electronic differential in so, if it is not steering enough at low speed, you can actually track steer it like a Caterpillar, so you can turn on the spot.”
The BajaBoard's complex drivetrain is computer-controlled and allows users to customise its characteristics depending on the rider's preferences.
“We have an electronic differential, which is controlled by a computer so there’s a whole bunch of sensors in the box to tell how much the rider is tilting, what the speed is and whether it is going down an incline or up a hill,” said Mr Murphy.
“From that we do a calculation of how much left to right differential they get.
Riders can also set how much power goes to the front wheels and to the back wheels.
“If they want to slide around a bit more they can have more throttle to the rear”.
While the various settings are currently altered with a laptop, Mr Murphy said the variable options would be accessible via a smartphone within 12 months.
The BajaBoard is capable of a top speed of 50km/h, but the rider can select one of three speed ranges, the lowest of which being 15km/h maximum – about as fast as a Segway.
The rider controls the speed of the board with a hand-held unit while riding.
The BajaBoard has no mechanical brakes, relying instead on regenerative braking, where the electric motors are used for retardation and the generation of electricity when the rider wants to slow down.
Speed is controlled in both directions with a wireless hand-held unit.
“We do have a reverse function as well. You have to be fully stopped before you can activate the reverse,” Mr Murphy said.
“If you are in a shop or other tight space, you might want to reverse out a little bit rather than turning around.”
The team at BajaBoard is already thinking about new products that can be developed when its first product is bedded down.
“This is the first of many things coming out of Baja,” Mr Murphy said.
“We hope to be doing scooters soon. And then mountain bikes and then a powerful motorbike.”
The BajaBoard team consists of four members. Technical director James Murphy who studied mechanical engineering at Swinburne University, chief executive George Li, who has a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Melbourne University, Alessandro Noccioli designed the electronics and control systems and has a diploma of Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering from Florence University, and Charlie Warren also helped design the electronics systems and holds a Masters of Electronic Engineering from Exeter University.
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