Monday, January 7, 2013

ZBoard: A Skateboard That's Electric and Fantastic

Designed in Hermosa Beach, California by mechanical engineers Ben Forman and Geoff Larson, the ZBoard is the world's first weight-sensing electric skateboard. The idea for the Zboard came to the pair while they studying mechanical engineering at the University of Southern California (USC), where almost everyone rides a bike or a skateboard to class as “traffic sucks and there's no parking.” But because bikes get stolen and skateboards have to be pushed up hills and over the city's uneven streets, Forman and Larson decided to create a device that is more fun and portable than a bike and faster and easier to ride than a skateboard. Initially the duo's final semester senior project at USC, the ZBoard is now commercially available to commuters in search of an innovative ride after three years of development.

Perfect for trips that are too far to walk but too close to drive, the ZBoard features a maple deck, front and rear foot pads, off road tires, a 400W electric motor, and regenerative braking, among others. To go, lean forward on the front foot pad. To stop, lean back on the rear foot pad. More than just on/off buttons, the foot pads sense how much weight you apply and analyze this information with the onboard computer. Thus, if you lean on the front foot pad, you speed up, and if you lean on the back foot pad, you go into regenerative braking. The harder you press on a foot pad, the faster you'll go or stop.

The ZBoard also includes a built-in handle for carrying or to lock up. Every skateboard comes with a charger and recharges in five hours. There are currently two models being offered – the ZBoard Classic ($649) and the ZBoard Pro ($949). The Classic is equipped with sealed lead acid batteries, while the Pro is outfitted with lithium-ion batteries, making it lighter, improving its range, and allowing it to reach a top speed of 17 miles per hour.

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