THP Semifinalist: The Medicycle

Despite a seeming lack of transportation projects for The Hackaday Prize, there are a few that made it through the great culling and into the semifinalist round. [Nick], [XenonJohn], and [DaveW]’s project is the Medicycle. It’s a vehicle that will turn heads for sure, but the guys have better things in mind than looking cool on the road. He thinks this two-tire unicycle will be useful in dispatching EMTs and other first responders, weaving in and out of traffic to get where they’re needed quickly.

First things first. The one-wheeled motorcycle actually works. It’s basically the same as a self-balancing scooter; the rider leans forward to go forward, leans back to break, and the two tires help with steering. It’s all electronic, powered by a 450W motor. It can dash around alleys, parking lots, and even gravel roadways.

The medi~ part of this cycle comes from a mobile triage unit tucked under the nose of the bike. There are sensors for measuring blood pressure and oxygen, heart rate, and ECG. This data is sent to the Medicycle rider via a monocular display tucked into the helmet and relayed via a 3G module to a physician offsite.

Whether the Medicycle will be useful to medics remains to be seen, but the guys have created an interesting means of transportation that is at least as cool as a jet ski. That’s impressive, and the total build cost of this bike itself is pretty low.

Video of the Medicycle in action below.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

50 thoughts on “THP Semifinalist: The Medicycle

  1. I’m a big sucker for monowheels and will sure buy/build one in my lifetime.
    But what I want to know is: Why is the Medic-Topic so heavy here? What does a monoqheel brings to the table that we all waited for that enables medics now to use them? I would argue, that a two wheel Bike would be much better for a medic, as it is able to transport more utility and medical tools (i would guess a medic needs at least two big storage-container for all the materials).

    So, why is a bike, now that it has only one wheel, the best solution for medics?

    1. It’s not the only solution, it’s _a_ solution.

      I would assume the agility is far greater than a bike. I’d also say that 90% of the time it’s about getting a responder on scene as quickly as possible, the equipment (at least more than can be carried in that unicycle) is almost secondary and can wait for the rest of the responders to get there.

      1. I’ll tell you what you bring one of those contraptions to Unadilla and run it in the 250GP race there. If you make it around the track once I’ll be much impressed. Heck run the track with no one else on it. Run it before it is even burned in. You’re not going to make it then either. WARNING! Objects in the air are much higher than they look!
        You should see when those guys go through the hairpin turns too. They actually move their handlebars around each other when they pass. It is nothing short of amazing. I’ve been there in person and no picture, or video I’ve ever seen of the event really does it justice.

        1. I’ll tell you what you bring one of those contraptions to The BNY Mellon Boat Race and run it in the River Thames race there. If you make it up the river once I’ll be much impressed. Heck run the race with no one else in it. Run it before it is even burned in. You’re not going to make it then either.

          It really doesn’t make sense when you’re applying the machine to an event it will never need to partake in

    2. it’s called medicycle because when it crashes you’ll sure need a real medic. this build looks incredibly dangerous. this will never work. like you said. there’s a reason why they use motorcycles instead.

  2. How well can it manuver at low speeds in a tight urban or indoor enviroment [between stopped cars or in hallways]? Dual motors on the wheels to allow them to turn at low / stopped speeds would be a useful enhancement. I’m still waiting for Heinlein’s ‘turmblebug’ from Theroads must roll” [1940]

  3. I want to see that vehicle to a hard emergency stop. IF it can not emergency stop at the edge of tire traction, it’s a failure. and the biggest fail of all the mono wheel designs. Great on paper, Face plant in real life.

    1. I can see how it *might* be made work. You’re in a riding position that allows you to easily and quickly move your feet forward and make contact with the ground. Simultaneously, you release a dead-man’s switch on the handlebars, that causes the vehicle to try to maintain a 30° forward tilt or so. (But don’t let go of the handlebars.)

      The vehicle suddenly drops back, planting your feet firmly. Now you have four on the floor, tire and shoe traction combined. 30° ensures the vehicle neither goes completely out from under you, nor slams the footrests into your Achilles tendons (ouch).

      At least that’s the general idea. Some refinement, and probably practice at the maneuver, may be required. I can see what I think is called a “saddle horn” being useful in the seat. But yes, I agree it’s important, and must be fully tested.

      1. Having destroyed my A/C ligament a year ago under almost precisely those conditions, I would suggest not doing this. (Locked my front wheel avoiding an accident, bike started to go down, put my foot down to hold the bike upright. I avoided the accident but my leg ended up going forward at a 30 degree angle… not pretty.)

    2. If you read through the all info on the medicycle it tells you how it stops, with a “normal” motorbike it’s actually quite easy to catapult yourself over the handlebars. With the Medicyle when you want to stop you are placed behind the balance point of the machine which means you will never face plant , and the way the machine stops means the wheel will never lockup and loose traction.

      1. Yes, that’s true. The more you lean back, the faster you decelerate. But the faster you decelerate, the *harder* it is to lean back and stay behind the balance point – especially with a high center of gravity. Which limits the deceleration rate in practice. For a “oh **** that child just ran in right front of me” or similar moment, at any speed that makes using a vehicle advantageous over a fast walk, an alternative method of stopping is needed.

      1. I have a $10,000 challenge for you. Hold a belt sander to your head for 1 minute while running on high and with 18 grit sandpaper. If you have less damage to your head without a helmet than if you were wearing a helmet, I’ll give you $10,000. You must videotape it and post it on youtube.

        Only the absolute lowest IQ people on the planet dont wear helmets when they ride. Same as the absolute bottom IQ squids that ride with only a t-shirt and shorts.

        1. I have a challenge for you. Don’t fall off your bike. The reward is staying alive. All a helmet does in an accident is save the coroner some work, and let you have an open casket funeral. Because you’re going to break your neck anyways.

          1. Accidents happen. Took a fall last week (at a relatively slow speed). Full gear and the results were a stiff neck for a couple of days, some bruises on the side, and a headache. Don’t want to think about the results sans gear. Helmets may not help when falling from 120 kph but, like seatbelts, come in handy at slower speeds.

          2. Speaking as someone who had a serious cycle accident: the helmet almost certainly saved my life. The helmet was cracked; so was my head, but I’m pretty certain it would have been a hell of a lot worse without one.

            That said, I still think helmet laws, as purely protect-people-from-themselves laws, are a bit stupid.

          3. As someone who came away intact (minus a shattered ankle) from a wreck close to 120kph (that’s ~75 mph for us Americans), helmets do indeed save lives (even at that speed) and if you don’t wear one I hope you haven’t reproduced by the time Darwinism catches up to you. Yes, it’s cool to be “naked” until that person in front of you locks up the brakes because they saw some little critter thinking about crossing the road. Or that lady on the phone with her dog on her lap in the Suburban “doesn’t see you” at a dead stop in front of her in traffic and hits you at nearly full speed (yes, that happened to me too). If you ride naked please don’t have kids until you (voluntarily) quit riding. The rest of humanity will thank you for your contribution towards increasing the collective IQ.

            Re: the hack. I think it’s a novel idea. It leaves a lot of questions to be answered though. As others have pointed out, I am not seeing the advantage over a motorcycle or conventional scooter. But it would be fun to build one of these. Which does give it some bonus points in my book.

          4. @pcf11
            People say this, but it’s obviously not true if you do any amount of research. The majority of accidents aren’t at highway speed. Just like with cars, you’re the most likely to wreck when you have the most people in one place trying to maneuver, ie on regular surface roads. Very, very often a helmet is the difference between, eg, a broken arm with, and a broken arm + concussion without.

            I mostly post this for other people’s benefit, since you seem to have made up your mind. For everyone else: motorcycles are inherently dangerous, but you can manage some of that risk.

          5. @arachnidster – Mandatory helmet laws make sense here (Canada) because people don’t have to pay their own medical expenses. I would wear my helmet even if it weren’t law to reduce the severity of any injury I face — and frankly I have no interest in paying medical fees for somebody who didn’t feel like wearing a helmet and now has a more serious injury than it could’ve been. Same as when people complain about how taxes on cigarettes are exorbitant – should I pay a few extra hundred bucks in taxes every year to cover the medical bills of people who got smoking-related cancer, or should the smokers pay the bills for their brethren, who in turn will have their bills paid for by the next generation of smokers?

    1. He’s right, it’s a ludicrous statement. Everything is cooler than a jet ski. Getting an MBA and working for the sales department for a plastics company in Ohio would still be cooler than a jet ski.

  4. ” weaving in and out of traffic”. That’s a bad idea on higher profile vehicles where it’s somewhat easier to see the rider, to do so on this has to be plain ignorant. To be any good to the first victim first responders need to arrive on scene, not become a grease spot on the roadway.

  5. Take a closer look at the video, it doesn’t even work. The only thing that med kit will be good for is after crashing on this assuming it ever gets working. Why do people keep trying to make mono wheal or flying vehicles? What is the current vehicle mortality rate not high enough for ya?

  6. Hackaday prize fail, i don’t mean just this one i mean the whole thing. You had over 500 entries and only picked 50 for the next round but even worse you picked mostly crap projects which means there’s no competition for the couple really good ones that made it. We already know who’s going to win this so all future posts have no purpose.

    And no i didn’t make an official entry so i have no stake in this.

    Why not just admit you failed and ask the community for help getting back on track?

    By “you” i’m talking directly at the HaD staff.

    1. Geez dude, let it go. Posting here only increases the comment count, which makes all their stories look better. Semifinal judging has passed and only the final judges are of any importance. The point of the semifinal rounds was to find 5 good projects that the final judges (actual legit, accomplished engineers) would stand behind with their good names. The other 45 can be crap to make their decisions easier. So no, community input would not mean a damn.

  7. There is not nearly enough space in this unicycle to put the gear that real EMTs use.

    sure there is enough space to put an Arduino based oximiter in there, or a bunch of simillarly non-approve home brew gadgets.

    Consider that in the UK, (or certainly where my Mrs works as an EMT, shifts are 12 hours long) and the first response vehicles will carry enough supplies that they could stay away from base for a whole shift,

    The storage space on this bike would be exhausted with a single box of latex examination gloves, then you need a whole load of sticky gel pads for the ECG, also, Oxygen, GAS/Air (entanox) and various other “bits and pieces”

    Oddly enough that’s why the first response motorbikes are dirty great big bikes with huge panniers and top boxes for all the equipment.

    Opting for no display on equipment/display only on helmet cannot be a good idea in a situation where a large part of the EMT’s jobs will be talking to and calming patients.
    often patients who may have had an accident and be weak/breathless/not strong speaking/hard to hear. (i.e impossibly to hear with a helmet on.

    Also, with the equipment physically built into the bike, how will this EMT be taking the equipment to the scene of an accident in the upstairs of a shopping mall, or inside a residential property, in a tightly constricted industrial space?

    The idea that this unicycle clown should be first on scene and equipment can arrive later is just a joke, what are they going to do without any real equipment? pretty much just watch people die?!

    Essentially, project doomed to fail because the actual brief of what they are claiming to fulfil has not been thought out.
    Reminds of of the guy I went to university with who got slated on his final year project that aimed to create a water saving valve for use in fire fighting equipment. -he could have said home shower, garden hose or any other mundane situation, but wanted to grab attention so chose the one situation where you want to dump as much water onto the situation as possible, and limiting that supply is counter productive.

    This guy has chosen the one situation where you want some stability in the vehicle that you are using, want lights on poles so that you can be easily seen, need space for sirens, and lots of equipment, which you can take anywhere, have to be able to work either with or without a helmet on, and designed a solution that not only meets none, but limits the possibility of meeting any of those specifications for real use.

    Which is weird in a way,

    1. I don’t think this is intended to replace an ambulance or larger bike. I believe the intended purpose is to ride out ahead of an ambulance and get there faster. For example, an accident on a highway bridge where an ambulance would have to move slowly forward as people re-position parked cars to allow space for the ambulance to pass. A tiny mono-cycle can buzz down the median and get there first while the ambulance is en-route. The guy on the mono-cycle doesn’t need a box of 500 gloves, he just needs 2 pairs in his pocket; the rest of the gloves can wait in the ambulance because it will be there soon.

      1. Most accidents that you speak of (in heavy traffic) are going to involve 2 cars,
        each of which will have at least one occupant, (more than likely involve more cars and more passengers.)
        Latex gloves are not known for their strength and “double gloving” is common, and sometimes necessary.

        Each patient requires their own gloves (e.g. they are changed between patients).
        Essentially Yes, a box of gloves IS required, just having a couple in your pocket would increase the spread of diseases.

        Additionally, a lot more equipment is required, in order to actually save a life, as opposed to just getting there and watching someone die.

        I.e whether it is a larger bike or ambulance “truck” or car that arrives later with the equipment the “first on scene” can’t actually do a lot without equipment.

        If you have any experience with motorcycling at all, you’ll appreciate that “filtering” through traffic (otherwise known as zipping through traffic) is an inherently dangerous thing to do, the speed differential between yourself and the surrounding traffic can only really be about 20mph different whilst being safe, trying to go faster than this can land you in hospital in a coma as a friend of mine found out whilst he was trying to get home quickly, the car didn’t spot him as it attempted to hop lanes, and he went straight into it! trying to go significantly faster than the traffic around you in a restricted space (the little gap between cars) leads to trouble.

        So in genuinely busy traffic conditions this bike would offer no advantage over a traditional bike (i.e they’d both get there at the same time). and in areas where traffic is lighter, then a traditional bike has much more advantage given more power and stability etc. (so electric unicycle is slower.)

        To argue that this is a good tool for it’s stated mission ignores every bit of common sense about either motorcycling or emergency medical care.

        Which goes back to what I said earlier, the guy in a mission to make the unicycle sound sexy sticks medibike stickers on the side, in a mission to enter a competition says the medical equipment in the bike will be linked to hospitals just to get a “connected to” part of the entry requirements… (they already have this in real life).

        It honestly seems that, Electric unicycle = cool.
        Trying to add purpose to shoe horn it into the entry requirements for this competition = obvious shortcomings..

        1. I agree with your conclusion that they are trying to face-lift a basic project to make it look cooler and shoe horn it into this competition.

          I disagree with your assertion that arriving on scene faster but with less gear only gives extra time to watch someone die.

          Anyone on scene is better than nothing, even if they have very little to work with. Ten minutes of bleeding can be a life or death difference. One EMT with a backpack full of gloves and gauze may be able keep someone alive until the ambulance arrives.

  8. My biggest concern with this project is the lawsuits which would come from two sources.
    First, from the injured paramedics. Dealing with real traffic and other drivers will inevitably mean panic stops which are this designs biggest weakness.
    Second, from BPG Inc. which already invented this and calls it the UNO. Even worse in this case, they have venture capital funding from one of the Dragons and other venture capitalists who I believe are pretty vicious about defending their intellectual property.

    That doesn’t meant I don’t think it’s cool. I do. It is.

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