It all started at the Think. Make. Start. Hackathon in 2015, a project organized by UnternehmerTUM GmbH, Technische Universität Munich, and various industry partners. In a matter of two weeks - from March 18th to March 30th - 50 master students should form interdisciplinary teams to develop a mechatronic product along with a proper business case.
The GyroBox Idea
Imagine a regular bicycle, which will not fall over. No training wheels, no trained bicyclist. Inspired by the Lit Motors C1 motorcycle concept, we decided to build a compact general purpose gyroscopic stabilization system, which can prevent bicycles, motorcycles or any other inherently unstable system following the principle of an inverted pendulum from falling over. In essence, two high speed flywheels rotate in opposite directions and by changing the plane of rotation, a force along the tilt axis can be exerted in either direction.
The GyroBox Team
- Sebastian Fruth (mechanical engineering, business administration)
- Lukas Grillmayer (informatics, robotics)
- Diego Ortiz (mechanical engineering)
- Claus Schneider (mechanical engineering, mechatronics)
Let the hacking begin, 13 days left:
After the ideation and team building, we needed to analyze the marked, prove technical feasibility, and specify the requirements for a functional prototype. There go three days...
It turned out our 400€ budget did not allow us to build a prototype capable of stabilizing a bicycle and an 80kg bicyclist, so we settled on an unmanned bicycle. Also market research proved to be quite tricky, since few believed this concept can actually work as described without the use of black magic. You try to explain the above concept to an 85 year old lady 🙂 This was our initial target group but tech students like ourselves found this product much more compelling. So now we need to convince you people to buy this for their grandmother. Sounds feasible.
Nevertheless, we were determined to bring this idea to life, no matter what.
Well, we had to face quite a few unexpected challenges, which used up a lot of time and money:
- Dynamixel servos and the National Instruments myRio don't mix when you are unfamiliar to LabView. Solution: Desert Dynamixel, use dumb PWM servos.
- Special high strength steel is 40% lighter than the plain old steel we calculated with. Solution: Only try to stabilize a small bicycle.
- Our supervisors get nervous when there are DIY metal plates rotating at 20,000 rpm in the shop. Solution: Build a heavy-duty looking cage.
After 14 exhaustive days, working Monday through Sunday 9am to sometime between 1am and 3am we had a somewhat functional prototype. We were able show that the exerted force are sufficient to stabilize a small bicycle. Our prototype is loud, dangerous, costs more than 1,000€ (thank you sponsors), and serves as a proof of concept, what more can you ask for?!
Even though TMS 2015 ended, team GyroBox will pursue this project.
At this point we would like to thank our new TMS friends for a wonderful time and wish them the best of luck for their projects:
Also a huge "thank you" to the staff of UnternehmerTUM GmbH, Technische Universität Munich, and various industry partners for the organization and support of this unique experience. Thanks!
We are team GyroBox! There are new stories to be told, be sure to check out our site for the newest developments. www.gyrobox.de