SteelG – an electric scooter Made in NURIS

Have you ever thought about buying an electric scooter? Or about whether it is possible to assemble one yourself? Or maybe even print one with a 3D printer? Students on the “NU TEAM” have developed a new model of electric kick scooter working with the Innovation Cluster of Nazarbayev University – NURIS.

The team has worked for over four months on the model that they have given the code name “SteelG”. The project has brought together a diverse group of students from multiple schools —  Yersultan Baimukhan and Maksat Anuarbek – 2nd year students of School of Engineering; Sultanmurat Eleu – a graduate of School of Science and Technology; and Akmaral Kalmanbaeva – a 2nd year student of School of Humanities and Social Sciences.  Aidar Alimbaev – officer of the Innovation Cluster of Nazarbayev University (NURIS), serves as the project monitor.

The students looked to larger manufacturers for inspiration and consumer desires when creating their scooter’s specifications. For example, the electric scooter was designed collapsible, the Smart App application allows the user to monitor the speed and the charge of the battery, and the electric wires are concealed in the scooter’s body.

– In mid-April, we gathered a team of four students of different majors. Then we began to get acquainted with the capabilities of the experimental shop – Machine Shop, consulted for the first time with the engineers of the digital prototyping lab FAB LAB. And after that we energetically mastered all the equipment needed to assemble the scooter: hand tools, laser machine, 3D printer and many other, – says Yersultan – team captain and responsible for the design of the scooter, 3D model and mechanisms.

According to Sultanmurat, who is responsible for the development of the application and microboard, the designers included features to the scooter to reduce the risk of theft.  Specifically, the scooter is activated remotely – that is, to start the motor one will need to connect via the smartphone application and enter a four-digit password. In their quest for the best model for the competition the developers worked tirelessly on the prototype and constantly refined their design at every stage.  Interestingly, they tested 120 versions of the scooter!  For example, when the team was testing the power supply, they assembled the battery compartment and connected the wheel motor to it, and during the tests found ways to improve their design. Currently the team has a competition ready model, plans to make a number of scooters for sale, and plans to further refine the design for the consumer market.

– Each part of the scooter we did at least twice, the steering part, namely, the fork was modified four times. In the first version it was rough, we got it into shape. We ourselves did metalworking, cut out metal plates, made all sorts of manipulations. We tested four different models and ended up with a more oval-shaped, streamlined and ergonomic front fork. It is this scooter that was assembled for competing in contests, not for sale. We will continue to refine the design and technical part, but we have first plans already – to make a series of 100 scooters for sale, – continued Yersultan.

Akmaral Kurmanbaeva is responsible for the team’s business plan, she is working on the commercialization and promotion of the project.

– First, we conducted a small study – a survey among about 700 respondents, 662 of them aged 17-23 , 21 under 17, 15 respondents aged 24 to 35, and seven over 35 years. According to the results of the survey, most of the respondents do not have an electric scooter, but would like to buy one to use daily, – Akmaral shares the results.

The team working together with NURIS staff, conducted an analysis of sales of similar scooters in online and brick-and-mortar electronic stores.  They found that in 2018, the sales of electric scooters increased by 70% compared to 2017.  The trend may continue to gain momentum due to consumers wanting to drive cars less. In the near future NU TEAM will develop a business plan for the commercialization of the scooter in the market of Kazakhstan.

Furthermore, the team has plans to participate in the four-month program of NURIS Business Incubator to support innovative start-ups at early stages. The students will have access to experienced mentors, master the basics of business education, coworking office space and technical support for further development. NU TEAM plans to expand and is looking for new team members who they hope to select via an upcoming competition. They especially need individuals with the following qualities: 3D modeling skills, engineering and critical thinking, and most importantly, commitment.

Now the team is in Spain participating in the Castelloli Smart Scooter Challenge competition. They tell us that only 21 of the 30 teams progressed to the second stage. Castelloli Smart Scooter Challenge is an international competition where teams not only present their engineering developments, but also conduct market analysis, present business plans, which will elaborate how each of teams assesses the potential launch of their machine in terms of production, price, dealers, markets, etc.

Last year, another student team of young and gifted engineers from Nazarbayev University took 13th place out of 26th in the category “Prototype  Battery-Powered Electric Car” in the international marathon “Shell Eco-Marathon Asia 2018” in Singapore.

The future is coming with technology that is allowing inventors to design, assemble and even print “self-made” scooters. Our campus offers so many opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators. Follow the SteelG scooter and other projects of the Innovation Cluster of Nazarbayev University in social networks to stay abreast of the latest developments in the world of innovations, startups and high technologies!