TTWCP-853-04 High Tech Sports, Robert Bigler of Hoverboard: Robert Bigler, CEO of Hoverboard
On This Episode…
Robert Bigler is a designer and an engineer with a passion for automation and electric vehicles. With a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, he taught himself electronics and computer programming to develop extremely compact and flexible motion-control and automation products. After growing his first company to be a global force among multi-billion-dollar competitors, Robert and his wife sold it and created Hoverboard Technologies, in the Silicon Valley.
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Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Robert Bigler – Hoverboard
Airing Date: February 13, 2016
Craig Peterson: Hoverboards have been quite the rage this year. These are the small boards that you can ride around, have a whole lot of fun with but there’s also been some controversy. We’re gonna talk right now with Robert Bigler about Hoverboards. You can go online, in fact, to their site at hoverboard.com to find out a little bit more. Robert, welcome.
Robert Bigler: Thank you.
Craig: So, a bit of controversy. I know some people have been complaining that they burst into flames and other people of course, there’s always safety issues depending on what the device is. Why don’t you tell us about this? I think most people aren’t really sure how they work. I’ve seen people standing on them and kinda going around on wheels. And they don’t really hover right? This isn’t like Back to the Future.
Robert: Yeah, so. Yeah, it’s like your Android, this is not really a humanoid robot, it’s a phone. Hoverboards in our lifetime are gonna be terrestrial. And you know I think our take on the Hoverboard is quite unique. But what we’ve seen a lot of is these two-wheel Hoverboards and you know, they’re coming in by the boatloads and containerfuls and without really conforming to the safety regulations and kinds of measures that keep products, you know, really safe. And, so that’s…
Craig: Well then that’s what we’ve been seeing, right? When they talk about them bursting into flames a lot of it has to do with really cheap batteries sets in there. Lithium ion batteries that aren’t manufactured properly, that aren’t hooked up properly, that overheat and start a fire.
Robert: Yeah, you know that’s 2 reasons. So it’s yeah, poor quality in the batteries but also to avoid that kind of thing you have to design around it too. Even with the best of batteries, you have to use them properly. Lithium ions, you know, some small fraction of like, nuclear material, they can be a bomb. Or it can be, you know, power a city.
Craig: It powers our cellphones, it powers our laptops, and quite safe because, again the design was done right.
Robert: Yeah. And those products we’ve been more careful about bedding before we import them.
Craig: Yeah. So we have, behind us here, a Hoverboard. Looks a little different from most I’ve seen.
Robert: Yeah. So we started designing this even before those 2-wheel devices came out. And this is our 1-wheel take on the Hoverboard and really, the answer to my ambition, to surf on land.
Robert: So it’s got 1 foot in front of the other more of a skateboard stance. And it’s much more powerful, much higher speed, much more agile and it’s a real transportation.
Craig: Well, is that where the problems come in with these 2-wheeled hoverboards? Coz you see them coming down. The wheels are kinda on the sides of the board. You have a very small surface to stand on and to use as a control surface. Does this make that a little easier, better?
Robert: Yeah. I think, you know, the news certainly focuses on them catching flames but that’s really rare. But I think the 2-wheel devices are… I found them personally dangerous. I fell off on one myself, coz when I lose balance, one foot comes off the other foot is still on 2 wheels.
Craig: Oh yeah.
Robert: You know, with this configuration, one foot comes off, the other goes straight to the ground. So that product will dump you on your back as you can see by YouTube videos.
Robert: This, you know our take on it, will dump you on your feet. So something goes wrong, you hit a bump or something like that or anything goes wrong, it dumps you on your feet. Now, if you’re going fast, you know, running speed, that’s fine. It dumps you on your… you can just run it out. You know but if you’re going fast enough, you better be geared up.
Craig: Exactly. And so this is a little bit more like a skateboard then?
Robert: It is. It is similar to a skateboard in the way you stand on it and the speeds that you can achieve. But it’s… knowing how to ride a skateboard does not prepare you for riding our Hoverboard.
Craig: For a single wheel Hoverboard. And you have a nice, for those who are listening on radio, of course you can’t see it right now. You can always go to our website. But there’s a big wheel right in the center of this.
Robert: Yeah, so imagine a skateboard with a wheel in the center and you go in the same direction as the skateboard so the wheels point it to the, you know, to the front back. And so one foot goes in the… whatever you decide is the front. It’s like a skateboard. You can ride it either direction. So whichever your dominant foot is it’s the front and then your back foot is in the back and you apply pressure into the board in whatever direction you want to accelerate.
Craig: Right. Now you’re obviously experienced with this. You’re involved with Hoverboard.com again, right or Hooverboard? How do you say that?
Robert: Coz it’s one O.
Craig: Right. Who are using these? You know we’re not spring chickens here but it sounds like you use these quite frequently.
Robert: Yeah. Well I’m 53 years old.
Robert: And a big kid at heart. And, you know, nobody’s ever had trouble learning. Some of the most excited people have preorders for this. This comes out in the summer. People are already signing up. A lot of those are, you know, people have a few bucks to spend on a high-end toy. But a lot of them are my age. And you know these are the people who like to windsurf. You know, physical fitness is kind of interesting to them and when you get out there and interact with their world. I think that’s… that we are delivering that way of interacting with the same world we live in everyday but in a completely different way.
Craig: Well then, this is, you’ve mentioned, exercise. This is gonna be good for that. Coz this is gonna work your core muscles as well as your legs and upper body.
Robert: I tell you, as you’re learning it, you’re tensing out. That is quite a lot of exercise. Unfortunately, once you get it down, it’s not that much exercise to ride.
Robert: You just gently lean on the direction you wanna go. I think it’s a level of exercise that offers somewhere between standing and walking.
Craig: Oh, walking is the best exercise.
Robert: But it does get you outdoors. And I don’t think you’d do it instead of exercising. I do it instead of walking places, let’s do that. It’s just you have extra little adventures you add with your life when you get a Hoverboard.
Craig: Alright, find out more. Go online to Hoverboard.com. Just like it sounds, H-O-V-E-R-B-O-A-R-D.com. Robert, thanks for being with us.
Robert: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you so much Craig.