It’s no secret that automobiles have created plenty of problems around the world, not the least of which include air pollution and street congestion. Forward-thinking individuals have begun to create a variety of innovative, alternative forms of transportation to help remedy the situation.
One of these is a unique, electric street vehicle known as the Uno, created by Canadian inventor Ben Gulak. The Uno rides like a combination of the motorcycle and the unicycle, all without pumping exhaust into the environment.
Born in 1989, Gulak grew up outside Toronto and began working at an early age with machine tools, side by side with his grandfather, who had a complete machine shop at his home. Gulak inherited all of the equipment when his grandfather passed away in 2004.
At the age of 17, Gulak visited China and was overwhelmed by the pollution that existed there. He observed that much of it was due to the throngs of motor scooters people rode through the streets, and when he got home, he decided to try to do something about it.
Gulak began working on a vehicle concept that would be street legal, compact, and would use electrical power only, not gasoline. He came up with a design that looks much like one-half of a motorcycle. The Uno has two wheels set close together, giving the appearance of a unicycle. It uses a computerized control system to keep it upright and balanced. There is only an on-off switch, and in order to control the vehicle, the rider sits on the seat and leans forward or backward in order to accelerate, stop, or slow it.
Gulak worked on the Uno for two years and entered it into the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where he won second place and was awarded the prize for “most marketable” product.
He set up a company to further develop the Uno and has begun pursuing patents for his invention in the U.S., Europe, and Canada. Meanwhile, he was invited to appear with the Uno on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in 2008. He prepared a new version of his prototype to demonstrate to the public on air. The Uno was featured on the cover of Popular Science magazine in May of 2008 as part of a feature naming the year’s top 10 inventions, winning the magazine’s “Invention of the Year.” He was also named in Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 in 2008, and he was nominated for the Edison award and won the Kairos Innovation Award in 2010.
Gulak entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2008. He created the DTV Shredder while at MIT. The DTV Shredder is an all-terrain vehicle designed to be in use during all four seasons of the year—in snow, sand, or mud.
Today, Gulak continues to promote his DTV Shredder through his website, BPG Werks. He travels around the country, giving inspirational speeches at TED 10, IdeaCity 09 and 12, Intel, and numerous TEDx Events.