There are an increasing number of products out there that are utilising self-balancing technologies. Obviously Airwheel are a major user of this technology in all of the products, but how does it actually work?
This is a very brief and simplistic overview of how a self-balancing system operates, but will serve to give you at least a basic understanding of how your Airwheel stops you from falling over!
When an Airwheel is switched off it is simply a freewheel device. There is nothing to assist it in balancing at all.
The moment you switch on an Airwheel, the control board powers up and starts running. This is an onboard computer that reads the states of several sensors, performs calculations and results in the controlling of the high power motor that keeps you up-right and moves you along.
The main sensor being used is an electronic gyroscope. This is a tiny electronic device on the main control board and unlike the traditional gyroscope; it has no moving parts at all. This gyroscope sensor is reporting back data on the Airwheel’s angular position.
The main processor on the control board uses this angular position data to sense whether the wheel is vertical, or whether it is starting to lean forwards or backwards. If it senses that the wheel is beginning to tip in a forward’s direction, it immediately begins to apply power to the motor to turn it in the correct direction to correct the tipping action and maintain a vertical position.
The action of reading the gyroscope data, calculating the position and controlling the motor happens around one thousand times every second. This is why it feels completely seamless when riding, as it’s all happening so astonishingly quickly.
The gyroscope is not the only sensor being used to control the Airwheel either, there are lots of sensors and calculations happening all at the same time which when all working together mean the Airwheel rides along and keeps you balanced as if by magic.
All self-balancing unicycles use the same type of technology to operate, so does this mean that they all perform as well as an Airwheel?…. quite simply, no!
Even if other brands of self balancing unicycles used exactly the same high quality components that are found in an Airwheel, it doesn’t mean they will operate in the same way as the glue that holds all of these components together is the software. The software is critical in how the processor handles the data to be able to drive the wheel’s motor. The software contained within an Airwheel is unique only to Airwheel and it separates Airwheel unicycles from all the competitors. The quality of the software program can make the difference between a wheel that’s intuitive and a pleasure to ride and one that is difficult and potentially dangerous to ride. We have ridden many brands of self-balancing unicycle and none of them have felt as safe, as easy and as capable as the Airwheel products and this is predominantly down to the ability of the software authors to write software code that maximizes the capabilities of the electronic components within the machines.
Not all self-balancing unicycles are equal!