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7. Superpedestrian

Founder: Assaf Biderman (CEO)
Launched: 2012
Headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Funding: $27.4 million

MIT's mobility physicist: Assaf Biderman, founder and CEO of Superpedestrian
Source: Superpedestrian
MIT's mobility physicist: Assaf Biderman, founder and CEO of Superpedestrian

Imagine turning your ordinary bike into an e-bike. As the associate director for the SENSEable City Laboratory at MIT, Assaf Biderman realized the best way to get around a city is by bike, but most can't handle the size and terrain of modern metropolises. Combining sleek design and robotics, he helped invent something called the Copenhagen Wheel (the name is a nod to the city that helped sponsor its development.)

The Copenhagen Wheel replaces the rear wheel of a regular bike and gives the rider much more power than he or she would have by pedaling alone. It does this by capturing the energy dissipated while cycling and braking, which then charges the battery in the wheel. This enables the rider to tap into that power, via different modes, for an extra boost when needed (riding up a hill, for instance). The company claims the Copenhagen Wheel "erases hills" and makes it much more enjoyable for folks to bike instead of drive.

Biderman is the founder of Superpedestrian and, as co-inventor of the Copenhagen Wheel, has licensed it to the company. The wheel costs about $1,200 and can be fitted on most bikes. Not surprisingly, users can lock and unlock the wheel with a smartphone and can also gather data about their ride. The Copenhagen Wheel is made in a production facility near Superpedestrian's Cambridge, Massachusetts, headquarters. It started shipping to customers late last year. Spark Capital is a major investor.

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