Nuclear engineer creates novel skateboard propulsion (w/ Video)

November 28, 2013 by Jim Schenke
Purdue nuclear engineering student Joe Carabetta has invented a novel drivetrain "Kickr" that straps onto any long board, turning it into a fast, quiet, 20 mph, kick-free ride. Credit: Kickr

( —A Purdue University nuclear engineering student has turned his time-consuming hobby into something new under the sun—an electric drive train that turns almost any skateboard into a high-speed magic carpet ride.

Joe Carabetta of Lake Zurich, Ill., wanted a kick-free ride on his favorite board without having to purchase a more expensive, clumsy board with a built-in motor. His "Kickr" can be easily and quickly strapped on and off almost any skateboard, letting him motorize his entire collection with just one device. Carabetta also did not like very uncool hand control cables on motorized boards. His motor is controlled by foot with a subtle, pressure-sensitive sensor on the board's surface.

"The first time I stepped on this board it far exceeded my every expectation," said Carabetta. "It's like flying without wings."

The system currently reaches speeds of at least 20 mph, can travel uphill and has a range of several miles. That makes it both fun for boarders … and useful as a no-impact, environmentally sound commuting machine for those without the skill, quadriceps, calves or motivation for kicking.

After some favorable publicity this summer, Carabetta went online for broad-based, crowd-sourced investment. He quickly doubled his investment goal. With the motto "Electrify Every Longboard!" he's now taking customer orders.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Kickr's drivetrain is made possible in part because of Carabetta's access to Purdue's high-tech Artisan and Fabrication Lab that was recently opened to student entrepreneurs so they can easily and affordably craft prototypes of their products. Kickr's drive train is crafted by computer-controlled tools from stainless steel and aircraft-grade aluminum.

Explore further: Student builds solar motorcycle, launches club to push more electric vehicle breakthroughs

Related Stories

Fastest electric motorcycle tops 200 mph for world record

August 28, 2011

( -- The Lightning Motorcycles SuperBike recently set a speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats as the world’s fastest electric bike, vrooming in at over 200 mph. Lightning Motorcycles set its newest speed ...

Austin lab team rolls out Kinect-controlled skateboard

January 10, 2012

( -- An Austin, Texas, team has developed an electric skateboard that makes use of Microsoft’s Kinect and a Samsung tablet running Windows 8 to go places on a piece of transport dubbed The Board of Awesomeness. ...

Shark Wheel on a roll to reinvent skateboarder experience

June 11, 2013

( —A California-based company has a new kind of wheel for skateboards that delivers a novel shape and claims a special ride experience. This is the Shark Wheel, not circular, not square, but something more interesting. ...

Japan's maglev train runs test at over 310 mph (w/ Video)

September 2, 2013

( —Moving toward its goal of building a high-speed magnetic levitation (maglev) train line between Tokyo and Osaka, Central Japan Railway Co has resumed testing of its L0 (L Zero) train—demonstrating speeds just ...

Recommended for you

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.