The KickStick defines definition. Created by Massachusetts based tech company Rise Robotics, the KickStick is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Essentially a long pole with an electric motor and wheel at one end, the KickStick is a wizard-staff inspired road gondola-oar that can propel skateboard and inline riders along at over 30mph.
In a world where personal transportation devices such as electric longboards, segways and hoverboards are becoming more and more ubiquitous, the KickStick is a bizarre addition to the arsenal of any asphalt warrior, and is gathering attention from interested skaters from all over the internet.
In this article we’ll cut through the hype around the KickStick to find out exactly what it is, where it does, and where it came from, in addition to providing some information on Rise Robotics, the mad scientist behind this sci-fi turbo boosting skateboard staff.
Who Are Rise Robotics?
Founded on the 11th of January 2011, Rise Robotics is the brainchild of Aaron Accosta and Blake Sessions. Accosta, a professional robotics engineer and expert in the commercialization of robotics technology.
A graduate of MIT with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Accosta has extensive experience in the field of robotic engineering and has worked with international experts such as Edward F. Crawley a world renowned professor of aeronautics engineering Systems.
Accosta is the mastermind behind the Ekotrope enterprise energy analytics and efficiency consultancy and now applies his extensive experience in robotics and engineering to developing products at Rise, along with Blake Sessions.
Sessions is the cofounder or Rise Robotics, also a graduate of MIT with extensive qualifications in biomechatronics. Sessions has received multiple awards for his innovative designs, including the Whitelaw prize for originality in mechanism design, and the de Florez award for ingenuity and creativity in innovation.
Sessions and Accosta met at MIT and their combined passion for robotics and applied technology led them to found Rise Robotics in 2011. Rise Robotics was successful in securing $1.87 million USD in equity funding from sixteen investors over two rounds in the following year from creation, and now employs a wide range of technological specialists.
Rise Robotics was created by Sessions and Accosta to provide enabling technologies for consumers, engineers and designers, with the goal of taking inaccessible high technology concepts to the market in a fun and accessible way.
Having competed in many different robotics competitions such as 2,007 and FIRST Robotics Challenge, Rise Robotics has the primary aim of developing and delivering pioneering technology in the field of powered exoskeletons.
Powered exoskeletons are fast becoming one of the swiftest growing research fields in the world and have many applications, from strength amplification to increase productivity, injury prevention from dangers such as repetitive strain injury, and the facilitation of rehabilitation and recovery from neurological and nervous system conditions such as strokes or spinal injuries.
Rise’s powered exoskeleton research is intended to eventually provide a comprehensive powered exoskeleton solution that can amplify the strength and movement of the wearer, leading them to work closely with many of the technological developments that led to the birth of the KickStick project.
The Origins of the KickStick
A primary element in the development of the powered exoskeleton technology that Rise Robotics focuses on is the development of efficient actuators, or the driving element that provides the force in the exoskeleton arrangement.
To create a fluid, dynamic and precise motion that can assist a user the actuators can involve powered components such as pumps, gearboxes, hydraulic systems of small engines. Blake Sessions was experimenting with the applications of one such device, a new type of brushless motor, when the idea for the KickStick came about.
In order to measure the amount of torque provided by the brushless motor, Sessions had clamped the motor to the end of a long rod that he had spare.
The Rise Robotics team, being pop culture aficionados and self-confessed nerds, began making jokes about wizard staffs and the potential applications of the hastily arranged device. Before long, the team had rigged up a battery-powered prototype and were powering themselves along on skateboards.
The team were captivated by the way the KickStick conjured up nostalgia for the late 80’s science fiction aesthetic with its exposed wires, hoses and components combined with the guitar-like riding posture and the sorcerous appearance of the staff itself. Rise Robotics quickly assembled a product demonstration page and a name for their design, and released a series of videos demonstrating the power of the Kickstick
Design & Construction
The KickStick design is simple and functional. Consisting of a brushless motor and battery array attached to a control rod, the KickStick is controlled via a pressure based throttle system built into the staff itself.
The KickStick has an ergonomic grip design with carbon fiber suspension to provide a smooth, comfortable ride and has a robust, tough design that can be ditched by the rider or dropped without risk of damage.
The direct drive, in hub brushless motor that drives the KickStick is capable of propelling riders at speeds of up to 30 mph, or almost 50km/h.
The battery packs are interchangeable and can be swapped on the go to allow riders to extend the distance of their rides, and the entire KickStick staff can collapse into a compact, folded package easily stored in a backpack. Boasting 2.75 horsepower, the KickStick is more than capable of propelling users of all sizes across a variety of surfaces, and can be used to push skateboarders, inline skaters, and even pushbike riders for an extra boost.
KickStick Pricing & Availability
While there is no word yet on the pricing of the KickStick, the Rise Robotics team have taken their project to popular crowdfunding site IndieGoGo to facilitate the worldwide distribution of the concept.
Interested skaters are able to register on the IndieGoGo pre launch page for updates on the progress of the campaign. The KickStick may look strange, but it also looks like plenty of fun, and the speeds at which KickStick claims to be able to propel riders are nothing to laugh about. Updates on the KickStick project are available via both the Rise Robotics website and the IndieGoGo prelaunch page.