Getting to and from the train is not an enjoyable experience. Train stops are not always conveniently located, scooters are not a practical transporter as it is hard to fit a scooter in your bag, and bikes are not allowed on trains forcing riders to risk having their bikes be stolen. So, we set out to create an “enhancement” to the T riding experience that was fast, compactible, and lighter than the existing ways of getting too and from the train. From the beginning, we intended to create a device to enhance the T, what we believe is an already existing and functioning mode of transportation. We had no intentions of creating a device to replace the T riding experience. With this in mind, we set out to design the Mono-Bird.
In the first and second iteration we focused on keeping things simple. The beggining prototypes had one large wheel in the middle and two rectangular wings, one on each side. The wings were 15 by 20 cm long, just big enough to support the arc of your foot. The wheel had a wheel cover to hold the wings in place and also protected the rider's feet from the wheel. The original target audience was young people with time to learn and get used to riding the Monobird.As a result, we didn’t focus on balance or safety features. With that said, we quickly learned that we needed to broaden our target audience. So, in the second iteration we added small wheels on the sides to assist with turning and balance. The wheels only touched the ground while turning providing the rider with support. The wheels also helped to keep the Mono-Bird clean and durable by keeping the wings off the ground.
With the second and third iterations, we focused on aesthetics, compactness, safety, and reducing weight. To help with style and safety we flaired the wings back, making the Mono-bird V3 look more stylish and “cooler”. This also enhanced the safety of the device as the back wheels created a triangle effect when they touched the ground making it easy for the user to be stable and balance easily. We also made the wings fold up in the fourth iteration to provide compact storage. We designed snap pins to help keep the wings stay up and folded. Finally, we continued to develop our wheel, this time making it with the 3-d printer, to keep it stronger and enhance the wheel cover, which we intended to use as the main storage for the electronics.
By the time we got to the fifth and sixth iteration we started to create models out of wood. The style from the fourth iteration was carried over to the fifth and sixth. We started by laser cutting the parts after modifying the file to be compatible with wood and started assembling. The wheel was hard to laser cut so we 3D printed it on two halfs that screwed together. We quickly designed a hinge system to make it easier for the wings to fold. We placed hinges on the bottom, making it easier to fold, and then connected the wings with wood glue to the wheel cover. When the wheel was done printing we assembled it and put it in the wheel cover. After that we started thinking about the spring-hinge mechanism, that we hoped would provide enough resistance so that the turning system would not be so touchy. Once we had a good idea on what to do we started designing the hinge and designed the sliding spring locks. The first hinge was not to our standards so we re worked the design and started printing. We assembled one wing with the hinge, springs, and sliding locks. Once that worked we met and emulated the design on the other wing, finishing the final prototype. We also programmed an accelerometer that would power the motor based on the direction the rider was leaning. When the rider laid flat (or in neutral), the motor did not go. When the rider leaned forward, the motor pushed the wheel forward. Likewise, when the rider leaned back, the motor provided resistance to slow the rider down. We were able to create a demo with a separate wheel which we hope to add to our final prototype at a later date.
The Mono-Bird is a small, light, compactable transportation device designed to enhance the T experience. The single wheel in the center allows it to be light and small. The foldable wings make the Mono-Bird compactable and easy to carry. The T is a proven reliable mode of t transportation that generally works well and efficiently, and we’re not trying to replace that. Our priority was to enhance the experience getting to and from the train. We’re trying to make it better, faster, and more enjoyable. The Mono-Bird originated as a transportation device for college students or young adults. It gradually transformed into a device for everyone and anyone. The Mono-Bird still has work to be done, the electronics need to be fitted to the wheel, we need a small and efficient battery that fits in the wheel, but the future is clearly bright.