Since our last update, we're stoked to report progress has surged ahead on the M1. In this update we’re going to dive into development details on nearly every major component of the board, inside and out.
Our team of engineers have been working around the clock to overcome the hurdles involved with creating a powered skateboard that feels unlike anything currently on the market. Performance, durability, and ease of use remain top priorities while still staying reasonably within our production timeline.
Previously for the Manta Drive we talked about the addition of arched magnets to increase the torque, braking, and overall performance of the motor. Since then, we've gone through several design iterations of the motor and truck assemblies to improve our ability to manufacture at scale and squeeze as much performance and torque out of the design as possible.
By going through these iterations we've not only achieved these goals, but have designed a Manta Drive that runs with even less drag than before. This improves efficiencies in the entire M1 system; everything from the feel of the board at speed, acceleration, and even the sound of the motor has improved. Furthermore, the entire Manta Drive is contained inside it's own sub-assembly, which means the Manta Drive can now be easily removed from the truck axle, should you ever need to send it in for service.
Custom Motor Controller
One of the biggest engineering hurdles remaining for the M1 involves the finalization of our own custom-designed motor controller and firmware. For those unfamiliar, the motor controller is considered the brain of the electric skateboard; practically a mini computer that controls acceleration, braking, torque, battery usage and even rider profile selection.
We came to the decision to build our own motor controller early on, mainly because current off-the-shelf motor controllers do not offer the right combination of performance, features and physical size that would meet our long term needs. Building a custom motor (the Manta Drive), with our own custom motor controller, and our own custom battery allows us to control every aspect of the boards performance and efficiency. To our knowledge, this is a first in the building of a commercially available powered skateboard.
Since redesigning the M1 deck to accommodate a smaller PowerShift Battery, we've made further refinements to improve performance and strength. To avoid wheel contact with the deck while turning sharply at low speeds (otherwise known as "wheel bite") we've shaved material from the deck just above each wheel to create subtle wheel wells, commonly seen in high performance downhill decks.
Additional deck refinements have focused on the integration of the front and rear LED lights. The first M1 prototype had the LED bulbs sitting inside a deck cavity with a single plastic lens being the only thing seperating the bulb from the outside world. We felt this wasn't the most durable implementation, so we went back to the drawing board to design an all-in-one independent enclosure to completely surround the LED bulb when installed inside the board cavity. This not only seals the LED bulb from the elements, but gives a more refined and finished look at the rail.
Since announcing that our PowerShift Battery would pack the same range into a smaller enclosure back in July, we’ve made a ton of progress on finalizing the internal and external features of the battery, it’s reliability, and how it will ultimately connect to the board.
To speed along the engineering process and avoid pitfalls, we’re now contracting with a leading expert in the field of electric vehicle batteries. This relationship allows us to work with battery suppliers who would otherwise only work with much larger companies, unlocking a level of service and battery pricing previously unobtainable to Inboard. This is a crucial development for the future of our battery technology.
We're also addressing an issue previous electric boards have had with a fully charged battery disabling regenerative braking. Regenerative braking sends electrical current back to the battery to charge depleted cells. However, when the battery is full, the current has nowhere to go and braking is disabled to avoid damaging the battery. With the M1, you'll still be able to engage the brakes with a battery that's fresh off the charger, and for us that's a step forward for the overall safety of the board.
Beyond the regenerative braking feature, each PowerShift Battery will need to endure intense vibration, shock, and moisture on a daily basis. The inside of a skateboard deck can be a pretty harsh space, which is why we’ve selected only the most durable round cell batteries to build our battery packs. These are similar to the cells used in all Tesla vehicles, and offer a higher level of safety than their flat cell counterparts.
Lastly, we’ll be including an LED ‘fuel gauge’ display on every battery, so you’ll know immediately if a battery is ready to go.
New at Inboard: Jared Mednick
Our talented engineering team continues to expand with the addition of Electrical Engineer Jared Mednick.
Jared previously walked the thin line between hardware and software as an electrical engineer at Oracle, where he was responsible for server hardware layout and back end architecture. At Inboard, Jared has already greatly expedited the development of our custom motor controller and will play a crucial role in developing the firmware that will maximize its power and efficiency.
Vision Mobile App
Development for Inboard Vision™ began back in December 2014. After months of testing numerous variations of design concepts and layouts, we are thrilled to have landed on a final design for the release of Version 1.0.
Vision is designed to relay as much information from your M1 to your mobile device as possible. After downloading the app and connecting to the M1 via bluetooth, you'll instantly see real-time estimates of battery health, remaining range, board modes and speed statistics. Mode settings will allow you to choose from pre-determined max speeds/acceleration or even set your own.
Record stats from your ride by opening the “Session Tracker” and instantly view your top speed, average speed, total distance and more. Upon downloading the app, you will also create your own profile where you will be able to view the history of every recorded session so you can show, share, and brag. Another huge progress leap has been in refining our “Touch Throttle” feature of the app. This is an entire section devoted to controlling the M1 should you choose not to use your RFLX™ Remote.
For rollout, we'll be focusing on the iOS version first, followed by the release of the Android version of the app shortly after.
The big looming question is, of course, "When will I receive my M1?" In our July update, we revised the production timeline to accomodate the redesign of the battery compartment to fit the new round cell batteries.Since that announcement, nearly all production elements of the M1 have continued on track, but the decision to move to the safer round cell battery led to a redesign of the battery's on-board Battery Management System (BMS). This management system is critical to the safety and longevity of our PowerShift Battery. To put it bluntly, cheap batteries with a cheap BMS can result in a potential fire hazard. Since all components of the M1 are designed for high performance and quality, we opted to pay the premium for top of the line certified batteries. Currently, we are unable to announce our battery supplier until the final production agreement is in place, which will happen after we succesfully meet with their safety standards.
In order to meet with the compliance and certification standards of our supplier, Inboard needs to use a pre-approved charger and meet our supplier's stringent battery pack testing standards. This includes shock testing up to 40G, water resistance testing, and flex testing. Inboard is currently undergoing this certification testing. While we have always intended to build the most durable product possible, these third party tests (tests that go beyond standard government UL, FCC, CE, KCC and many other certifications) were not built into our development timeline. It is our hope that Inboard's PowerShift battery pack will be approved within two revisions. Any additional revisions beyond this will result in a slight delay for battery production.
In summary, development and production remains on schedule barring additional revisions to the PowerShift Battery. Inboard will continue to communicate updates regarding our product release timeline as they become available.
We can't wait to ride with you soon!
The Inboard Team