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The Copenhagen Wheel

on Tuesday, 20 September 2011.


Sense and Sustainability


the Copenhagen Wheel, a smart phone controlled electric bike with the change of a wheel.

The batteries in the hub of the Copenhagen Wheel power the sensors that provide location and local environmental information  such as CO, NOx, noise, temperature and humidity. Cyclists can also use this information to determine the health impacts and distances traveled and for connecting with friends and other cyclists on the go.
Collected information is also useful for gaining an insight into the aggregate movements of bicycles in cities helping civil engineers and city planners to propose and build better cycle routes , work towards accommodating cyclists and assess the impact of cycling in the city SENSEable City Lab has developed a variety of applications that use the data collected by the Wheel. One example is the Green Mileage Scheme which provides incentives for cyclists when they reach a certain number of ‘green miles’. In the future such a scheme could also allow cities to enter carbon-trading schemes, by helping prove that a city is increasing the amount of ‘green miles’ being traveled.


MIT’s SENSEable City Lab and the Mayor’s office of Copenhagen have joined forces to develop a leapfrog sustainable transportation system for bicycles. The Copenhagen Wheel, which will be unveiled during the Mayor’s Summit as part of the OP15 United Nations Climate Conference is an electric ‘hybrid’ bicycle which is also a smart mobile sensing device that can map eal-time flows and environmental conditions in cities.

SENSEable City Lab


An Improved biking experience

all components packaged into the hub easily retro-fit-able into any bike monitors air quality regeneration and assist modes intelligent locking mechanism
real-time feedback controlled through your smart phone

Battery Level
Real Time Data
Change Gears + / -
Change Mode + / -
Mode: Assist 1/2/3 | Regeneration 1/2/3
Bluetooth connection
Gears: 1/2/3

The Copenhagen Wheel aims to improve the experience of cycling for two types of people: those that already cycle and those who don’t ordinarily consider using a bike for their daily commute. It also is a tool for harvesting information about the city: the environmental sensors in the wheel provide both riders and cities (if the cyclist opts in) with real-time feedback about pollution, miles travelled, effort spent and route choice. Cities can use this information to make more informed transport related decisions and better allocate resources.
The Copenhagen Wheel is controlled by your Smart Phone. Here you can choose your mode - regeneration or assist - change gears and receive real-time feedback about your riding and the environment. The wheel can be easily retrofitted into any standard bicycle. Unlike the majority of electric bicycles, all components, including the batteries, motor, and location and environmental sensors are packed into a small hub that is located in the back wheel of the bike.


MIT Senseable City Lab, Cambridge, MA

The Copenhagen Wheel , Fall 2009

Analyzed and modified the mechanical design of a hybrid (human-powered/electric) bicycle wheel to be presented at the 2009 UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. Advised on the construction of a functional prototype at MIT and of the finished wheel by Ducati Energia in Torino, Italy.

More than a way to get from A to B

The Copenhagen Wheel aims to transform bicycle use in Denmark’s largest city through promoting urban sustainability and building new connections between the city’s cyclists. In this work, bicycles become smart mobile sensing devices that map the real-time flow of people and environmental conditions in Copenhagen. This is achieved through strategically placing small location and environmental sensors on bicycles to gather information as people ride through the city. This data then powers applications of benefit to citizens, city municipalities and researchers interested in understanding more about city dynamics.

The components of the project are an electric bicycle wheel that can be easily retrofitted into any regular bicycle and location and environmental sensors which are powered by the bike wheel and in turn provide data for a variety of applications.

The Copenhagen Wheel project demonstrates that small intelligent implementations can lead to major changes. This work will be displayed at the 2009 Cop 15 UN Climate Summit where the next version of the Kyoto Protocol will be signed.

SENSEable City Lab

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