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Power Science

Electric Motorcycle Inventor Crashes at Wired Conference 337

not5150 writes "The inventor of the electric 'KillaCycle" motorcycle was taken to the hospital for x-rays after demonstrating the vehicle to reporters. Bill Dube, a government scientist during the day and bike builder at night, attempted a burnout in front of the Los Angeles Convention Center during the Wired NextFest fair. Fueled by the "most powerful" lithium-ion batteries in the world, the bike accelerated uncontrollably into another car. There's a video interview (thankfully before the crash) and footage of Dube crashing."
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Electric Motorcycle Inventor Crashes at Wired Conference

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  • some pictures (Score:5, Informative)

    by juventasone ( 517959 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:45AM (#20600359)
    While the slashdot effect kills the video, there's some pictures and comments at gizmodo []
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:48AM (#20600373)
    It's a drag bike. After you do the quarter mile you slow down & stop.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:07AM (#20600453)
    Well its not like you can only apply the power gradually like a petrol engine.

    Of course you can. Do you have an electric fan? Does it always run at full speed? Or is there a little switch that lets you adjust the fan speed?

    My understanding is that when you turn an electric engine on, that's it, full power full torque.

    No. Electric motors can do that (which is nice in many applications), but they don't have to do that. It depends on how much voltage/current goes to the electric motor, and it's pretty easy to control voltage & current.

  • Just needed stiches (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:11AM (#20600473)

    from the comments on the linked page:

    I wasn't wearing a helment, because we did not intend the bike to even move!

    We were spinning the tire in soapy water. The tire unexpectantly gripped, (water ran out?) and launched the bike. I couldn't get it shut down as quickly as I would have liked. I had to release the front brake to fully untwist the throttle. I then managed to slow it down to about 20 mph.

    The positive message here is that when we crunched the battery pack, NOTHING happened. No smoke. No flames. Not even sparks. Not only are these cells more powerful, they are are the safest possible for automobiles.

    Also, there was NO ONE in front of the bike or in the possible trajectory of the bike.

    Bill Dube

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:26AM (#20600537)
    You're erroneously assuming a constant acceleration: real-world dragstrip acceleration-time plots are anything but linear.

    As to the time, 0-60 in 1 second is standard for drag cars or bikes running in the 7s on the quarter mile.

    1/4 mile times like that are pretty good for an electric vehicle though.
  • Other Videos (Score:5, Informative)

    by gbickford ( 652870 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:42AM (#20600591) Homepage
    Here is a mirror of video of the crash: [].

    There are a lot of videos of the thing in action at []. The thing is clearly [] not [] a scooter []

    It's really a bummer that he decided not to wear a helmet.

  • by mpe ( 36238 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:02AM (#20600663)
    Well its not like you can only apply the power gradually like a petrol engine. My understanding is that when you turn an electric engine on, that's it, full power full torque.

    You can vary the amount of power sent to the motor, it is also possible to have motors with switchable windings to give different torque and speed settings. In the case of a vehicle such as a car or motorbike an electric motor can be connected via the same sort of gearbox you'd use with an internal combustion engine. Indeed the only real difference between a regular motorcycle and an all electric one is that the latter wouldn't need a starter.
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:07AM (#20600681) Homepage Journal
    Yes and no.

    You can't easily apply gradually more power with high-power engines running on AC.

    There are numerous tricks like switching configuration of the coils, using high-power thyrystors etc. You can't just put some resistance because it would be enormously wasteful. Some railway engines use "convert 1-phase AC from the wire to DC, then convert back to three-phase AC of desired frequency" making them actually more efficient than running on 1-phase AC straight from the wire.

    But not in this case. The batteries produce DC. They can be switched one at a time to limit voltage(->torque) if it's a DC motor, or the conversion to AC can be freely configured providing frequency (->RPM) just as desired if the motor is AC.

    (also note using all kinds of resistors, pots and other "power drains" for limiting current/voltage when such powers are in use, are useless - they would have to dissipate (and waste) enormous amounts of power. Devices that limit the "average" voltage by dutycycle method ( x% of a milisecond on, 100-x% of a milisecond time off => x% power) are much better but not every kind of end-target device can accept this kind of power, plus it generates lots of electromagnetic noise from all the instant on-off action )

    Simply put, getting limiting voltage by a half in a 5V 10mA DC configuration is trivial - wasting 0.25W of power is not a problem. In 500V 10A DC configuration is very tricky. Dissipating 2500W is not really an option.
  • by pyat ( 303115 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:47AM (#20600861) Journal
    You can have slip within the electric motor, so it can behave like an electromagnetic clutch. This can be pretty handy:

    On diesel railway locomotives, they have a diesel engine that generates electricity, which is then used to power electric motors on the wheels. One reason for this arrangement is that using electric motors like this means you don't need a clutch and it's more compact than a fully mechanical transmission for such huge power would be.

  • Re:Other Videos (Score:2, Informative)

    by neochubbz ( 937091 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @07:44AM (#20601437) Homepage
    FYI, the crash starts at about 3:00 into the video.
  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @07:59AM (#20601571)
    Actually most applications use PWM (Pulse width modulation) for dc motor control. Banks of high amperage switching transistors feed the dc motor with a high frequency on off pulse. By varying the
    pulse width you increase or decrease the speed of the motor.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2007 @08:50AM (#20601953)
    ...and makes his family and anyone who cares about him deal with the consequences, too. Oh, and who makes me deal with the consequences because I have to indirectly pay for his freedom-loving medical costs. Oh yeah, and he makes whomever else was involved in the accident deal with the freedom-loving psychological consequences of participating in another human-being's death or vegetization. I think that's a level of dick-ness that is appropriate to outlaw.
  • by Logic and Reason ( 952833 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:43AM (#20602417)
    The Anonymous Coward you responded to is NOT Bill Dube; he just quoted the man's comments. I'm pretty sure Bill Dube is not going to see your comments here.

    And your comment about being a "role model" is inane. Are you saying no one should take any risks because stupid people might copy them? Berate the man for endangering his own safety if you wish, but get off your high horse.
  • Re:Killa-Minivan (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheJodster ( 212554 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @10:19AM (#20602873) Homepage
    I don't know if you can make the roads safe for motorcycles of any kind, unfortunately. I was a long time rider and cycle enthusiast. I had lots of good safety gear, lights all over my bike, etc. I had taken safety courses with hands on crash avoidance scenarios. Last year an idiot woman in an SUV launched herself from a side road like she was on a suicide mission to get across the four lane divided highway where I was riding. She crushed my leg which they nearly had to amputate; broke my ribs which consequently punctured my lungs; ripped a hole in my small intestine; tore my abdominal wall to the point where I now have a piece of kevlar mesh holding my organs in on the right side. It's been a year and a half and I almost walk normally now. I was wearing a full face helmet that hit the ground repeatedly as I flew through the median.

    I got a twelve day stay in an ICU, four major surguries, four months in the hospital, a year of rehab, more than a half million US dollars in medical bills, and pain that I would never wish on anyone. She got a ticket for failure to yield right of way and a new SUV.

    If you want to ride a bike on the highways in the U.S. beware that the consequences of the bad judgement of the drooling idiots you share the road with is extremely high. The helmet will ensure that you remain concious throughout the ordeal... if you are lucky... and if you aren't, at least your wife, kids, parents, or whatever will be able to have an open casket funeral.
  • by Dare nMc ( 468959 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @10:26AM (#20602945)

    Ke= M* (V^2)
    so it takes 4* as much energy to go from 0-120, as to go from 0-60. Assuming constant power wouldn't 1 sec 0 to 60, would be 4 sec 0 to 120.

    Traction limit would go up (same torque*2 speed, ie twice the power allowed through the tire, but 4* needed to maintain accell rate), which was probably his limit to 60.
  • by ahoehn ( 301327 ) <andrew AT hoe DOT hn> on Friday September 14, 2007 @11:09AM (#20603383) Homepage
    The fact that you can run thie Lithium battery pack into the side of a car and have nothing happen to it is quite impressive.

    The Slashdot crowd is already familiar with exploding laptop batteries, and electric RC news groups are filled with horror stories of houses and cars burning down from LiPo batteries that "randomly" burst into flame. Just this weekend my brother-in-law and I flew our electric RC planes with LiPo packs in them. On the way back into the house, he dropped a battery pack on the sidewalk from about 3 feet in the air. It instantly started spewing smoke and flames, and kept going for about a minute. We were lucky that it was sitting on concrete.

    The moral of the story is, I wouldn't trust anything as volitile as the LiPo's that I use for RC sitting between my legs or in the trunk of my car. While the injury is unfortunate, the publicity of a safe LiPo might do good things for the KillaCycle.
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @11:18AM (#20603505) Homepage Journal
    "And who drives up insurance costs for the rest of the riders who do wear helmets"

    Complete myth. I can attest to this. We used to be free in Louisiana to choose to wear a helmet or not. New Gov. Blanco (aka Blank-Stare after katrina) repealed the law.

    We now have to wear helmets. However, the insurance rates for motorcycle riders (or even auto) did not go down one cent.

  • by polar red ( 215081 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @11:35AM (#20603751)

    1/4 mile times like that are pretty good for an electric vehicle though.
    I don't think performance is the problem with electric vehicles (show me a train that can hit 575kph(360mph) that is petrol-powered ...)
    It's storage that's the problem, and on such short distances ...
  • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @12:52PM (#20605041) Homepage Journal

    What sort of a dick rides a bike without a helmet?
    Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks.
  • Key Phrase... (Score:2, Informative)

    by weinrich ( 414267 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @01:26PM (#20605527)
    Key Phrase from the video: "...I'm usually the crew chief, not the driver..."
  • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @02:40PM (#20606509) Homepage Journal
    I'd tend to say that you have more to worry about than electric cars. Most modern cars are far quieter today than they used to be. Engine noice is no longer significant.

    An electric car at high speed is still going to emit a fair amount of noise. Modern gasoline and even diesel engines are very quiet even at low speeds.

    For the motorcyclist's 'being noisy is safer', well, you still have to worry about deaf people, even half-deaf elderly who are running around in a relativly soundproofed car. With the radio turned up.
  • by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:58PM (#20607747) Journal
    Remember kids: wear your helmet!

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker