[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
It’s not often that an incoming college freshman is already starting his own multimillion dollar business. But that’s what’s happening to Ben Gulak. He’s a 19-year-old Canadian who’s just starting at M.I.T. Gulak’s was inspired by the overwhelming smog he saw on a trip to China two years ago. He thought there should be something better than all the polluting scooters. He spent two years tinkering and came up with a contraption he calls the Uno. It’s an electric vehicle that looks like a cross between a motorcycle and a unicycle.
There are actually two wheels, but they’re side by side, not front and back. And the controls consist of a single on-off switch. You balance by simply sitting upright. You accelerate by leaning forward. Leaning backward activates the brakes. And you turn by simply leaning to the left or right. The computer control system is similar to that of the sidewalk Segway, but this device is designed like a scooter to be ridden on the street. Gulak has already won a number of prizes and gotten funding for his new Cambridge-based business. And he’s planning to balance a double-major in mechanical engineering and business at M.I.T. Which should help him get people to balance on Unos someday soon.