Drop Everything And Build This Go-kart Right Now!

There are awesome projects, and then there are things that make us drool on the keyboard. We just got done wiping up our mess after seeing this go-kart which uses four hub-motors as direct drive wheels. We’ll admit, this is more artwork than a hack as these guys are mechanical engineers and know what they’re doing. But how could we pass up sharing something like this?

The design is smaller than any of the other go-karts we remember seeing. The low-backed pilot seat is the biggest part, with a cubby-hole beneath it for the batteries and control hardware. Each of the hub-motors was hand wound and reading through the related blog posts it seems this was a huge and painful part of the build.

So it’s pretty fun to watch these guys tear up the hallways of one of the engineering buildings at MIT. But the footage of a two-kart race up a spiraling parking garage in the middle of the night is absolutely delightful. You’ll find both videos embedded after the break.

28 thoughts on “Drop Everything And Build This Go-kart Right Now!

  1. At least this post about Charles isn’t nearly as full of misinformation and stupidity, compared to your post on Land-Bear-Shark. Or was it Segfault you were trying to cover? I honestly couldn’t tell.

  2. Damn, with 4 direct drive hubs they can possibly build a control system to manage the speed of every hub and thus preventing wheel drifting which would decrease the turn radius!

  3. Anyone else think this looks a tad unsafe? Why did they design it to be so small? Why not just a little longer with a bit larger wheels. I was just waiting for them to hit a rut in the concrete, break an axle and crack his non-helmeted head open.

    1. Don’t be so dramatic dude. Being such a small thing is what makes it fun to ride! What do you think is funnier to ride, a Opel Corsa at 180Km/h or a BMW Series 1 at 180Km/h? I can tell you for sure you would shit your pants off if riding a Corsa at that speed while dying of boredom in the BMW.

      If they crash they probably will be in pain for a week and then they can go back to fun. Just enjoy life and stop being such a pussy!

      1. I’m a pussy because I feel that their design could be unstable in some instances, with such small wheels? I thought we were here to give critical thinking a try rather than anecdotal responses?

  4. Man I just don’t understand. When I was in school (computer engineering) I was either studying my ass off or at work. I cannot figure out how anyone in college has time to build such awesome projects (like this one) while still in school. I’ve seen this scenario on HaD so many times!

    Arrrgh I wish I could go back and unfail my college years.

  5. Other than having the copper already, was there any reason you picked that over silver for the motor windings? It has better electrical and thermal conductivity, and the weight increase would be negligible in the scheme of the kart.

  6. I have been tracking this as well, and it is sweet!

    The downside is that I feel like some of the equipment and parts that went into making this happen are way beyond most people. The batteries specifically (a123 car pack) would either cost a fortune or be impossible to source for hobbyists without a MIT connection.

    Seems like I can only dream…

    1. The alternative was Hobbyking’s large lithium ion packs, which would have worked great (and been even lighter). For sheer Wh per $, it’s hard to beat HK, and anyone can buy them. It is totally possible to shorten the frame another 8 inches or so, at which point I would be forced to switch to said batteries.

  7. If you think *this* is awesome, take a look at the electric karts made by 4th-6th grade students at our BEST races (www.bestoutreach.com and click the
    “race day” link). They are designed and built by kids, for under $100, out of junk they scrounge, and go faster and farther than these karts do! :-)

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