Zehus to challenge chinese operators in Milan
Zehus is a well renowned company created by a team of engineers and PHDs from Politecnico di Milano. They merged in 2014 with Flykly, in order to compete with Superpedestrian’s Copenhagen wheel in the market of “smart-wheels”: autonomous bicycle wheels with integrated battery, electronics and motor that can transform any bike into an E-bike just by swapping wheels. The system converts braking and pedaling energy in order to charge the battery.
To enter the bike-sharing competition, Zehus has adapted its Bike+ product on a specific bike strangely looking like a Paper Bicycle, and developed a specific app for users. The entire system is called Bitride, and is the first autonomous dockless E-bike-sharing system, and each bike costs around 1500€.
Zehus claimed to provide self-sufficient E-bikes. As already explained, the Bike+ system integrates a 250W motor, a 30V/160Wh Li-ion battery along with sensors, battery management system and other electronics. The wheel is said to have a 30km range, without charging. If the charging algorithm is strong enough, it sounds like a magical solution for E-bikes! But of course it raises some questions: how will the battery life be affected by multiple micro-charges? What is the charging capacity of the regenerative braking system (will it be sufficient to keep a acceptable battery level)?…
On the safety side, Bitride bikes are equipped with Axa E-RL smart locks with an additional cable lock. It also has a build-in GPS tracker from Vodafone “with the highest precision available on the market today” (wait and see) and accelerometer, whose data can be analyzed by the system to turn the motor into a brake. Cities will also like to have the possibility to get atmospheric pollution and road condition data thanks to on-board sensors (reminds me of something…).
After years of development, and thanks to an important EU grant “Horizon 2020” of 2.4M€, Zehus will launch in april 2018 a fleet of 350 bikes in the streets of Milan, Italy. A pilot of 50 bikes is already available for workers ans students of Politecnico Milano. We will keep you updated!