The ZBoard is an excellent example of how technology is helping us come up with smarter, easier, greener, and cooler transportation options. It is a weight-sensing electric skateboard -- a world first, and an inspiring idea for using the latest technology to get us out of cars.
It is not necessarily as green as a skateboard or bike in that it requires battery power. But it is a great option for people who want to avoid driving but need an option that suits their abilities or preferences for getting around. Fewer people driving, even if that's on electric bikes or now electric skateboards is a good thing.
The ZBoard started out as a senior project by a couple of college students but quickly turned into a far bigger project. The technology is similar to that used in a Segway -- lean forward to go accelerate and lean back to slow down or stop. The ZBoard can hit up to 17 miles per hour, which means you can get around really quickly without having to get sweaty. It can also go where it might be tough to take a bike, such as on sidewalks, however it has off-road wheels that can easily be used on roads or dirt paths.
The technology used for the ZBoard is really interesting -- it is the first time we're seeing technology used in larger transportation vehicles used on something as small and portable as a skateboard. It even uses regenerative breaking to extend the battery life. It uses a standard 110V wall outlet to recharge in about 5 hours and has a 10-mile range. It has a 400W electric motor, so adding in that extra boost from regenerative breaking is a really smart design move.
The creators note that it is perfect for short-range commutes, such as to work, heading to the store or ATM, getting coffee and other short jaunts. It is exciting to see more variety in transportation options thanks to modern technology. I can imagine that as regenerative breaking and battery technology improve, options like the ZBoard will get smaller, lighter and even greener. We're already seeing record-setting energy density for Lithium Ion batteries, and efficiency rates for electric motors is constantly improving.
Another great example of modern technology providing us with more convenient transportation options is the Solowheel, spotted at CES this year. It works similarly, in that the way you lean determines your speed and direction -- however you have to be comfortable balancing on a single wheel with your feet. The ZBoard might be a more universal option using weigh-sensing technology, since standing on a plank feels more secure than standing on a wheel, even if the Solowheel is smaller in size and so could be more convenient on busy sidewalks. Either way it is clear: The more technology advances, the more low-impact transportation options we'll have, and ZBoard looks like it is at the forefront of that wave.
It also looks like it is going to be incredibly popular. The creators launched a Kickstarter campaign for $10,000 and have already raised over $61,000 with a whole month still left to collect funding. The ZBoard is up for pre-order, and depending on the model you choose, ranges from $500-$750.