Lit Motors Inc. is a San Francisco-based start-up that designs fully electric, gyroscopically stabilized two-wheeler vehicles. The company plans its first small production run in 2014. Founded by Daniel K. Kim in 2010, Lit Motors' stated goal is to create a new class of personal transportation. The company is developing two products, code-named the C-1 and the Cargo Scooter.
The extended range of the C-1 is also assisted by a KERS regenerative braking system, a regenerative braking system which uses flywheels to store the energy created under braking, a systems that’s been assisting F1 cars to achieve extra boost for a few seasons now. These flywheels are also part of the gyroscopic stabilization system keeping the vehicle upright in all situations – even a collision – while allowing the control system to dictate the tilt and lean of the vehicle at all times. In other words, as the gyros spin, downforce is created to keep the vehicle stable and level. It’s a bit peculiar to see a two-wheeler not topple over without the assistance of a kickstand or human power. This gyroscope ensures that the vehicle remains upright regardless – even a collision won’t tip this thing! Plus the control system allows the rider full say in the angle of leaning every second that it’s in motion, creating downforce to counteract tilts.
Only one gyroscope is needed to maintain balance, but there are always two running. Each has redundant computer chips, controllers and sensors, so if any one of those fails, there are extras to back it up.
The bike is made up of 2,200 parts, or one-tenth the number in the average car, which should make it easier to mass-produce, Kim said. He plans to start manufacturing it in the United States.
Kim spent years figuring out the design for the C-1, which has a metal shell and two gyroscopes under the floor that keep the vehicle upright even in the event of an accident. This thing may look from the outside like an encased motorcycle, but it acts like a car, right down to the steering wheel and foot pedals.
In many ways, the C-1 is superior to electric vehicles that are already on the market. It gets 200 miles to the charge, it’s relatively cheap (the vehicle will cost $24,000 when it’s released in 2014, with prices going down to $14,000 by 2016), and it can squeeze into tiny parking spaces--a boon for anyone living in a crowded city.
But Lit will still have to get over one big hurdle: the unfamiliarity factor. This thing looks strange, which will certainly appeal to some people. It will leave others with lingering questions about safety, highway-readiness (it can go on the highway and has a top speed of 120 mph) and whether it can actually stay upright. "They are going to need a lot of user testing and proof that this is going to work for ordinary folks to be able to demonstrate to people over and over and over again that this is going to be safe, efficient, and economical," says Jonathan Koomey, an advisor to Lit and a Research Fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University.
There are reasons to be skeptical. The Aptera 2 series, a similarly quirky electric vehicle (this one was a three-wheeled two-seater) crashed and burned last year when Aptera Motors announced it was going out of business because of a lack of financing. When I asked Kim if Lit has any similarities to Aptera, his answer was simply "There is no comparison."
Lit does have its act together. Unlike other electric vehicle companies-- Fisker and Aptera--the startup isn’t piling on cash to fix its problems. The company has two full-scale prototypes and applications for over a dozen patents, all with under $1 million in funding. Kim and his team are taking painstaking steps to make sure the vehicle is actually as cheap as they say; the full-scale prototype was built by hand to get accurate projections about cost at different levels of scale.
Vehicle sales will eventually decide whether the C-1 is viable. So far, Lit has racked up nearly 400 pre-orders. That’s nearly half of the 1,000 initial production run. Kim expects that the vehicle will be distributed via motorcycle dealerships and through partnerships with established companies.
"[Lit is] trying to define a new category. They’ll poach off people who are buying Smart cars and people buying motorcycles," says Koomey. "We’ll have to see how the big players respond."
- Biggs, Ryan (2012 March 21) Finally, a vehicle made for commuting! from http://blogs.evtrib.com/nerdvana/technology/finally-a-vehicle-made-for-commuting/67525/
- Crowe, Paul Lit Motors Self Balancing Fully Enclosed 2 Wheeler Prototype Takes First Slow Test Run. from http://thekneeslider.com/lit-motors-self-balancing-fully-enclosed-2-wheeler-prototype-takes-first-slow-test-run/
- Lavrinc, Damon (2012 May 29) Exclusive: This Is the Gyro-Stabilized, Two-Wheeled Future of Transportation. from http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/05/lit-motors-c1/
- Mac, Ryan (2012 December 5) Lit Motors And Its Convention-Defying Motorcycle. from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2012/12/05/lit-motors-and-its-convention-defying-motorcycle/
- Markham, Derek (2012 March 21) World's First Gyroscopically Stabilized Electric Motorcycle: Virtually Uncrashable? from http://news.discovery.com/autos/drive/worlds-first-gyroscopically-stabilized-electric-motorcycle-virtually-uncrashable.htm
- Motal, Julius (2011 September 14) Lit Motors CEO Dan Kim aims to reinvent the motorcycle. from http://www.geek.com/geek-cetera/lit-motors-ceo-dan-kim-aims-to-reinvent-the-motorcycle-1421041/
- Schwartz, Ariel (2012 October 28) Can a Mutant Electric Half-Car, Half-Motorcycle Disrupt The Vehicle Market? from http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680779/can-a-mutant-electric-half-car-half-motorcycle-disrupt-the-vehicle-market#3
- Yoney, Domenick (2011 September 19) Lit Motors C-1 Enclosed Motorcycle Uses Flywheel Magic, Not Training Wheels, To Stay Upright. from http://green.autoblog.com/2011/09/19/lit-motors-c1-enclosed-motorcycle-uses-flywheel-magic-not-train/
- Yvkoff, Liane (2012 May 30) Lit Motors test drives self-balancing electric moto. from http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-57443429-48/lit-motors-test-drives-self-balancing-electric-moto/
- Dirksen, Kirsten (2011 September 17) Watch: 30-Year-Old Entrepreneur Crafts Future Car -- It's Electric, Has 2 Wheels and Can't Fall. from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kirsten-dirksen/land-rover-biodiesel_b_1098978.html
- Dickinson, Boonsri (2011 December 6) Can Electric Bikes Be A Billion-Dollar Business? This Garage Entrepreneur Thinks So. from http://www.businessinsider.com/can-electric-bikes-be-a-billion-dollar-business-this-garage-entrepreneur-thinks-so-2011-12
- Aston, Adam (2012 March 19) Can Lit Motors succeed where Segway failed?. from http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/03/19/can-lit-motor-c-1-succeed-where-segway-failed
- Stone, Zak (2012 June 5) A Motorcyle-Car Hybrid Wants to Be Urban Transit's Next Big Thing. from http://www.good.is/posts/a-motorcyle-car-hybrid-wants-to-be-urban-transit-s-next-big-thing
- Lavrinc, Damon (2013 December 12) Lit Motors’ Kubo Scooter Is the Ultimate Urban Delivery Vehicle. from http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/12/lit-motors-kubo
Marketing & Administration
Ryan is a jack-of-all-trades kinda guy, with quite a varied background. He earned a BS in Environmental Studies from Emory University, developing strong writing skills and a holistic approach to problem solving. Ryan spent his career thus far pursuing interests, from retail management/marketing/merchandising to digital printing to photography to metal fabrication to video production. This wide range of skills is instrumental in taking Lit’s marketing campaigns from concept to reality.
Simona has an extensive business background, holding an MBA (Marketing + Finance concentrations) from University of San Francisco, and a BA in Economics from Boston University. She has also studied entrepreneurship and innovation in developing countries, focusing on Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, as well as managing a portfolio of microloans in emerging markets. Prior to joining the Lit team, Simona worked in business strategy, marketing, analytics, and research for 3Degrees, Fisher Investments, and State Street Corporation.
Christina has a deep background in Corporate and IP Law, earning her J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law, following a dual degree in Economics and Russian from Georgetown University. She speaks several languages, and has additional experience with energy policy and government relations. Christina’s background makes her quite valuable in managing our contracts and intellectual property.
Christina Hsiang joined as IP/Contracts Manager December 2012 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
David Mondello Office Manager
David studied Linguistics and Studio Art at Reed College, where he also hosted a college radio show. Another jack-of-all-trades, David’s experience ranges from event planning to management to ship building. This varied background makes David our go-to person for anything from client relations to vehicle fabrication.
David Mondello joined October 2013
Engineering & Design
Harsh Jain Harsh's experience with electric vehicle powertrains is instrumental in bringing both the C-1 and the scooter to market. He holds a B.Eng. from Sathyabama University and a MS Eng. in Embedded Systems from UPenn, where he worked on EV powertrains, energy efficiency, and automation. Harsh has also worked with Wipro Technologies, developing automotive embedded systems. Among others, Harsh was awarded in 2012 by the Korea Embedded Software Industry Council for his work in extending the battery life/range for EVs, and by Honeywell Process Solutions in 2011 for his work in wireless control.
Harsh Jain joined as Electrical Engineer July 1 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
Enoch Morishima Enoch comes to us from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, where he earned a BS with Honors in Transportation Design. While at Art Center, he worked with Mitsubishi and Honda to develop creative electric transportation solutions for South Africa and Malaysia. Enoch further experimented with electric and concept vehicles with Acton, Inc., and Katzkin. His fresh take on vehicles will inform the design of the C-1 with innovative ideas.
Enoch Morishima joined as Vehicle Designer September in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
Sachin Agrawal Sachin has a decade of industry experience working with control moment gyroscopes – the core of the C-1′s gyro stability system – with both Space Systems Loral and Lockheed Martin. He holds an M.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Dynamics, Systems, and Control (DSC) from Cornell University, which followed a B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley. Sachin’s knowledge and experience with autonomous controls are crucial to developing the C-1′s gyro stability system.
Sachin Agrawal joined as Controls Engineer September in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
Luke Peterson Luke comes to us from UC Davis, where he recently completed his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering studying bicycle dynamics, and developing a self-balancing robotic bicycle. This followed eight years of honorable service in the US Marine Corps – achieving the rank of Sergeant – as well as a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara. As demonstrated through several published academic papers and his completion of three double-centuries (200 miles ridden in one day), Luke’s passion for bicycles and deep understanding of bicycle dynamics are essential to making the C-1 a reality.
joined as Dynamics / Controls Engineer October in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
Thomas Ly Embedded Systems / Firmware Engineer
Thomas is a recent grad from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied both Electrical Engineering and Engineering Entrepreneurship. In addition to co-founding a biomedical company, Tom’s extensive list of projects ranges from useful (Adaptive Traffic System) to humorous (Sleepless Cap, LIDAR Sentry Gun) to just plain cool (ScratchTable). Tom’s broad range of experience across a variety of software and hardware is a boon to the C-1 development.
Embedded Systems / Firmware Engineer Joined November 01.
Oliver Lee Embedded Systems / Mechatronics Engineer
Oliver is an engineering jack-of-all-trades, double-majoring in Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences (EECS) and Mechanical Engineering, then following that with an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering—all from UC Berkeley. In addition to developing an autonomous RC car and a robot that can probably play drums better than you in Rock Band, Oliver worked with Luke at UC Davis on the robotic bicycle project. Oliver’s ability to blur the line between mechanical and electrical engineering is essential to developing the C-1.
Oliver Lee joined Lit Motors October 2013.
Brandon has an extensive mechanical engineering background, with an emphasis on Control Theory, Artificial Intelligence, and Digital Signal Processing. He completed his Ph.D, Decision Making in Unstructured Environments, at UC Berkeley, following undergraduate work at Columbia University. His research has also covered mobile robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles, and the NASA Mars Exploration Rover, with publication more than twenty times in journals, conference papers, articles, projects, theses, and proposals. Drawing on this extensive background, Brandon is developing the backbone to the controls systems of the C-1.
Dr. Brandon Basso joined as Lead Vehicle Dynamicist November 2012 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
Eric Miller joined as Creative Officer. Eric is our resident digital design wizard. He studied Transportation Design at Art Center College of Design, earning a BS as well an exclusive graduation show at the Honda Advanced R+D Gallery. His exceptional digital and analog design, modeling, prototyping, and fabrication skills were further developed through his work with Dassault Systèmes and Eleven. Eric is invaluable in bringing the C-1 concept to reality.
December 2011 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
Mark Thorogood joined as Chief Production Officer January in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
Luke Peterson - Dynamics / Controls Engineer
We're happy to welcome Luke Peterson to the team!
Luke comes to us from UC Davis, where he recently completed his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering studying bicycle dynamics, and developing a self-balancing robotic bicycle. This followed eight years of honorable service in the US Marine Corps – achieving the rank of Sergeant – as well as a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara. As demonstrated through several published academic papers and his completion of three double-centuries (200 miles ridden in one day), Luke’s passion for bicycles and deep understanding of bicycle dynamics are essential to making the C-1 a reality.
- John Koomey - Jon Koomey is a consulting professor at Stanford University, and has also recently taught at Yale and UC Berkeley. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Contemporary Economic Policy, is a research affiliate of the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, and is an advisor for Wattbot. For over eleven years, Jon led Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories‘ End-Use Forecasting group, analyzing markets for efficient products/technologies and developing recommendations for policymakers at the EPA and DOE. He holds MS and PhD degrees from the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, and a BA in History of Science from Harvard. A prolific author, Jon has authored or co-authored eight books and 150+ articles and reports on energy efficiency and supply-side power technologies, energy economics, energy policy, environmental externalities, and global climate change. He has been widely decorated for his work, including being named an AT&T Industrial Ecology Fellow and a Google Science Communications Fellow.
Jon Koomey became an advisor July 2010 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
- Jason Hill - Jason Hill began his exemplary design career at Art Center College of Design, where he graduated with honors and now teaches Industrial Design. He worked with Mercedes-Benz, Samsung Motors, and Porsche before founding Eleven, a design studio focused on eco-friendly design and alternative fuels. He also served as Director of Design for Aptera Motors, an innovative automotive startup that made astounding achievements in efficiency and aerodynamic design.
Jason Hill became an advisor October 2011 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
- Steve Fambro - is best known as co-founder / CEO / CTO of Aptera Motors, an innovative automotive startup that made astounding achievements in efficiency and aerodynamic design. His varied background as a mechanic, electrical engineer, and programmer, as well as his several patents, led the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago to dub him an “innovator”. In 2010 he founded Famgro, a new startup which aims to grow and sell the most radically nutritious, profitable, and sustainable on-demand food in the world.
Steve Fambro became an advisor December 2011 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
- Yoky Matsuoka -Yoky Matsuoka is currently VP of Technology at Nest. After an impressive-yet-short tennis career (once ranked 21st in Japan), she pursued a BS from UC Berkeley and an MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT. Through her work at Barrett Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Washington, and as Head of Innovation at Google, Yoky has combined neuroscience and robotics to pioneer a new field she refers to as “neurobotics“. She has been widely recognized for her work, and in 2007 was named a MacArthur Fellow.
Yoky Matsuoka became an advisor May 2012 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
- Jeff Finkelstein Jeff Finkelstein has decades of engineering experience, with several patents under his belt, but is best known for his work commercializing the controls system of the Segway Human Transporter. His extensive work history includes several other notable projects for a variety of clients, including Microprocessor Designs, an electrical engineering and product design consulting group he founded in 1987. Jeff studied Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at SUNY Stony Brook and the University of Vermont.
Jeff Finkelstein became an advisor May 2012 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
- Seth Sanders is a professor in Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences (EECS) at UC Berkeley. His research covers Control, Intelligent Systems, and Robotics (CIR); Energy (ENE); Integrated Circuits (INC); and Power and Electronics Systems. He also collaborates with the Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center (BSAC). Seth received his BS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics, as well as his MS and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT. He spent several years as a design engineer at Honeywell before joining the faculty at UC Berkeley. Seth has received the NSF Young Investigator Award (1993) and Best Paper Awards from the IEEE Power Electronics Society and the IEEE Industry Applications Society. He has served as Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Computers in Power Electronics and as Member-at-Large on the IEEE PELS Adcom.
Seth Sanders became an advisor August 2012 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
- Daniel Smith has over a decade of experience as an aerodynamicist for Williams F1 and BAR Honda. His work covers computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing, as well as future car development. Daniel earned his MEng in Automotive Engineering at the University of Leeds after attending Barrow Sixth Form College.
Daniel Smith became an advisor August 2012 in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
- Yves Behar We're very happy to announce our new Design / Branding Advisor, Yves Béhar! Yves is a designer and entrepreneur, best known as co-founder and principal designer of award-winning industrial design and branding firm Fuseproject. His design work integrates sustainability and social good with commercially-successful products, with a top client list including MINI, General Electric, Prada, Samsung, and many more. Yves is the Chief Industrial Designer of the One Laptop per Child (OPLC) XO laptop, and is a member of the Founder’s Circle of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. He also serves as Chief Creative Officer for Jawbone, as well as collaborating with several other companies including Herman Miller and Mission Motors. In addition to his work with OPLC, Yves worked in NYC to reduce HIV/AIDS and in Mexico and SF to distribute free custom-designed eyeglasses to students. His long list of recognitions and accolades includes solo exhibitions at SF MOMA, being named one of TIME’s “Top 25 Visionaries“, and Design Museum London’s “Design of the Year“. We are honored to have Yves’ assistance with the design and branding of the C-1 and Lit Motors.
Yves Béhar joined as Design/Branding Advisor October in Lit Motors Vehicle Lab
Board of Directors
You will be responsible to model, design, implement, test and benchmark the motor controls of current and future C-1 traction motor drives.
- Help define requirements for motor control software and interfacing hardware components including voltage and current sensors, power stages, speed sensors.
- Understand, drive design of and implementation of motor controller functionality, behaviors, and algorithms.
- Develop, test, and validate motor control algorithms in the laboratory and in-vehicle.
- Maintain awareness and influence research and development in key component technologies that affect future inverter / motor designs and motor control.
- Advance Lit Motors intellectual property in electric motor design and motor controls.
Desired Skills and Experience
- In-depth understanding of torque control techniques such as slip-based control, field oriented control, direct torque control
- Prior experience with flux estimation methods, 3-phase power control, analytical control system theory development and analysis.
- Experience with various PWM schemes such as space vector, discontinuous, and sinusoidal modulation, including data-acquisition methods.
- Capability of delivering high-quality C code in an embedded microcontroller environment.
- System-oriented understanding of thermal, vehicle-level torque control, high voltage DC-link integration, efficiency optimization, and firmware integration for electric drives.
- Model development and data analysis in Matlab/Simulink.
- Greater than 3 years of experience in implementation of controls in traction motor or other inverter-fed drives.
- BS/MS/PhD in EE/ME/Physics or equivalent.
POSTED: September 6, 2013
We are looking for a highly motivated individual who will be responsible for delivering high quality embedded code running on the processors at the heart of C-1. The individual will also be responsible for designing and implementing firmware designs specifically for vehicle body controls.
- Develop firmware solutions by studying information needs; conferring with the team; studying systems flow, data usage, and work processes; investigating problem areas; following the firmware development lifecycle.
- Improve operations by conducting systems analysis; recommending changes in policies and procedures.
- Design and implement protocols to enhance subsystem communications.
- Document and demonstrate solutions by developing documentation, flowcharts, state machines, diagrams, charts, code comments and clear code.
Desired Skills and Experience
- Design of embedded systems written primarily in the C language.
- Experience with real-time operating systems and embedded hardware.
- Experience with CANbus systems and associated tools.
- Familiar with the embedded microprocessor design process: compilers, debuggers, IDE and source code control.
- Experience integrating sensor I/O.
- Ability to multi-task, prioritize and work in an extremely fast-paced environment.
Preferred Education, Skills, and Experience:
- Digital signal processing.
- Hands-on skills: PCB design, wire harnesses, etc.
- Security algorithms, cryptography etc, wireless technologies, specifically RF, Bluetooth.
- Masters of Science in Computer Science/Electrical Engineering with hands on experience working with embedded systems.
- Greater than 3 years of experience.
Candidates for this positions with Lit Motors Corporation must be legally authorized to work in the United States. Verification of employment eligibility will be required at the time of hire.
Find out what it is like to love your job. Come discover a Company that is focused on designing the future mode of transportation.
POSTED: September 6, 2013
We are seeking highly motivated and qualified candidates who live at the intersection of mechanical and electrical design, with specific domain knowledge in vehicles- air or underwater. Candidates should have proficiency in vehicle modeling, analysis in high-level tools such as Matlab, as well as lower level programming experience.
Individual will be responsible for conducting research in motorcycle/vehicle dynamics and developing self balancing control algorithms for the vehicle. Research and Development of robust and optimal control designs for a wide range of complex automotive applications.
CAE based control systems analysis, design, optimization and validation to improve vehicle dynamics performance.
Individual will work closely with hardware engineers in order to develop cost efficient and robust designs.
Desired Skills and Experience
Minimum Requirements: Master of Science in Aerospace, Mechanical, Electrical Engineering or similar, with emphasis on control systems.
Experience with CMG/Satellite/Helicopter controls.
Experience in the design, development and validation of real time control systems.
Significant experience with C, Matlab/Simulink/Stateflow, Real Time Workshop.
Preferred Experience, Education, Skills PhD in Aerospace, Mechanical, Electrical Engineering or similar with emphasis on control systems.
Familiarity with Electric Vehicle Drivetrains, Vehicle Dynamics, Robotics.
Excellent problem solving skills and a passion for technology and the engineering of systems.
Excellent written/oral communications.
Proven ability to work well with others as part of a diverse global team. Greater than 3 years of related work experience.
Candidates for this positions must be legally authorized to work in the United States. Verification of employment eligibility will be required at the time of hire.Find out what it is like to love your job. Come discover a Company that is focused on designing the future mode of transportation.