Electric vehicles are receiving a lot of attention, both in our minds and in many minds around the globe. Since a few months, I'm commuting with a beautiful Biketec Flyer T8 pedal-assisting bicycle, about 20 kilometers each day. As I apply force to the pedals, an electric motor provides that amount of force to the bicycle chain as well. It makes the ride lots of fun; getting to speed at stop lights and crossing bridges is lovely.
So now, I'm hungry for more. Now I want an all-electric non-human-powered vehicle. I'm not expecting affordable, great all-electric cars from our failing bunch of manufacturers, so this time we're going to build one ourselves! A small car might be somehow technically possible to conceive, but shop space is sparse, and there's no way we can ever get the car regulated so that we can actually drive it around. Instead of upgrading either a bicycle or a full car, we're trying somewhere in the middle.
A kart has a simple frame and construction. We add a bunch of frames for car batteries on the sides and an electric motor in the back. We add these components, together with a controller and some wiring, and that's that (in theory). OK, we can't get a kart regulated either, but at least a kart takes less space than a complete car and the kart can be transported (by a fuel-munching automobile) to open places -- like parking lots or industrial terrains -- to play with it. But I'm expecting the process of constructing the kart will be a whole lot more enjoyable than driving it around. The fun is in the challenge of getting it to work.
As this is supposed to be a great hack, we'll try to get it built before the Hacking At Random conference in the Netherlands this summer so we can showcase the electric kart at the event.
I'm setting up this blog to keep track of my progress. The project has a semi long term goal, of being ready by August 2009, and there will be interruptions along the line, so plenty of bursts of ideas in the middle of long silences on this blog may occur.