What is the science behind the smart self balancing e-scooter, popularly known as the hoverboard? What makes it “smart”? Self-balancing e-scooters are an incredibly intuitive device, a new age personal transportation equipment that makes walking look a bit pedestrian. It is able to detect your movement and sense even the slightest motion. If you are not careful, you might find yourself falling onto your back or flat on your face as you operate your smart self balancing hoverboard. Smart it is that it will not take off without you. Your hoverboard have infrared pressure sensors on the rubber foot pads that start working once you step onto the self-balancing e-scooter with both feet. Indeed, no feet on the board, no drive.
Anyone who have not ridden a hoverboard yet would be curious about the way the device works and what makes it move when operation is hands-free. Aside from the wheels and the pressure pads, there are components that interact with one another to get the smart self balancing e-scooter moving. One will need to look under the hood of the device.
The components of a hoverboard
Every smart self balancing e-scooter features the following main components:
- Steel frame with central pivot
- Logic board or motherboard
- Lithium-ion battery pack
- Gyroscopes or gyro boards
- Rubber foot pads
- Infrared pressure sensors
- LED lights
- Electric motors
- Tilt/speed sensors
- Power button
- Charging port
- Plastic shell
Assume that you are disassembling a smart self balancing hoverboard of a reputable brand (not a China-made knockoff). You will see that the components are properly organized. The battery pack and the logic board are on opposite platforms, intended to promote better balance and safety. Inside each wheel is an electric motor and a tilt/speed sensor. The wires and wire connectors are safely insulated, and the wires are properly color-coded and connected to the circuit boards. The power switch and the charging port are on the platform that houses the logic board.
Each rubber foot pad will have two infrared pressure sensors, one at the toe and one at the heel. These sensors live at the back of the two gyroscope boards, one for each wheel. At the center of the smart self balancing hoverboard is the battery charge light and the power indicator light, opposite each other. Each platform will have a front LED light.
A smart self balancing hoverboard has three circuit boards, one of which is the motherboard (the main circuit board), and the other two being the gyroscope boards. The electric motor in each wheel has eight cables, three of which are power cables and five are hall cables, and they connect to the motor control board. These cables are responsible for the balance of each platform, the function of the wheels, and the motion of the smart self balancing e-scooter. The control board lets the electric motor know when to switch across the different cables.
How does the hoverboard move?
The inside of your wheels houses both the electric motor and the tilt/speed sensor. The sensors detect the RPM or revolution per minute (rate of revolution of a mechanical component) of each wheel, and transmit the said information to the gyroscope and motor control boards, which then relay it to the logic board.
Each component in a smart self balancing hoverboard carries out specific tasks, just like how the different parts of the human body perform. The logic board or motherboard is somewhat the brain or central processing unit (CPU) of your hoverboard. It processes the information transmitted by the microprocessors in the gyroscope boards, motor control boards, and tilt/speed sensors. The logic board tells the electric motors how fast to run, which direction to turn, etc.
The microprocessors work as an inner ear balancing system. This inner ear is what helps the smart self balancing e-scooter maintain balance while it is in motion. The devices “knows” when you are going to lean forward or backward.
As you may already know by now, the smart self balancing hoverboard detects movement through the rubber foot pads that have some sort of switches underneath. The switches trigger an infrared LED light, which triggers an infrared sensor. As long as the infrared sensor detects the LED light, the logic board will tell the electric motors not to move.
But when the light is turned off, the logic board tells the motors to move the wheels in a particular direction. When both feet are on the smart self balancing hoverboard, the sensors recognize a rider is already standing. The rider’s weight pushes down the switches, thus turning the light off. A little plastic wall slides in between the infrared LED and the infrared sensor.
When you lean forward, pressing down your toes, the sensors pick up this movement. The tilt/speed sensors tell the gyroscope and control boards how far forward you are leaning. Your leaning position indicates how fast do you want to go, so the more you lean forward, the faster your smart self balancing e-scooter goes. Of course, because the logic board tells the motors so. Your hoverboard will move at a speed that will keep up with your forward leaning body.
If you want to turn left, slightly tilt your right foot forward and move your left foot backward. This makes the right wheel move forward and the left wheel move backward, turning the whole smart self balancing hoverboard to the left. This is the opposite with making a right turn. To turn right, slightly tilt your left foot forward and move your right foot backward, and the opposite happens. Operating your smart self balancing hoverboard and making turns are plain simple even without taking your feet off the foot pad.
Since the electric motors are independent of one another, you can actually do a 360 degree turn with your smart self balancing hoverboard. To make a clockwise turn, slightly lean your left foot to the right and move your right in the backward opposite direction. Counterclockwise, slightly lean your right foot to the left, and move your left in the backward opposite direction. Spinning with your hoverboard may be a bit challenging. By learning how to shift your balance to each foot, you will be able to master this skill.
Spinning in circles with your hoverboard is a bit challenging, but you will be able to master this technique
To move backward, lean backward. To stop, lean back slightly and get off one foot at a time, and you might want to do this carefully because if you move backward too fast, you might get thrown off your hoverboard, so move backward slowly.
Safety reminders when using a hoverboard
- If you are trying to learn how to ride a smart self balancing e-scooter, start out very slowly or else you fall face down on the ground.
- To start, step onto your hoverboard one foot at a time. Get the feel of the device before proceeding with the other foot.
- Don’t jump onto your device.
- Have your feet touch the sides to get better control and balance.
- Stand evenly. Apply equal amount of pressure on both sides of your hoverboard.
- Before you master the art of speed, learn how to stop and get off the smart self balancing e-scooter first. This is where many riders make a mistake.
- When getting off, step off backwards, not forwards. Stepping off going forward will cause you to slip and fall.
- If you are driving too fast, don’t stop too quickly or else you risk being thrown off your device. Operate at an appropriate speed, especially when in public.
- Try not to freak out when getting onto your smart self balancing e-scooter. Be confident. Just relax.
- Wear shoes.
- Focus in your direction.
Learning how to ride a hoverboard should be more fun after you learn how the device works and how the components interact with each other. Such knowledge will help you appreciate the science behind the self-balancing e-scooter.