Ben Gulak

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Ben Gulak
Greatwall BG.jpg
Born Benjamin J. Poss Gulak[1]
1989 (age 28–29)
Milton, Ontario, Canada
Residence Boston, Massachusetts, US
Nationality Canadian
Education Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Known for Inventor of The Uno, DTV Shredder
Awards Canada's Top 20 Under 20, Gold Edison Award, Popular Science Magazine Invention of The Year 2008
Website bpgulak.com

Ben Gulak (born 1989) is a Ukrainian Canadian inventor best known for creating the Uno, an eco-friendly,[1][2] electric-powered vehicle that bears a resemblance to a motorized unicycle.[3] The vehicle had its first public unveiling in 2008,[4] and was awarded a Top-10 prize on Popular Science's list of 2008 Invention Awards.[5] Gulak founded the Massachusetts-based company BPG Motors, which has also developed a design for the DTV (dual-tracked vehicle) Shredder, a portable all-terrain vehicle with the handlebars of a Segway and treads similar to those of a tank.[6]

Early life[edit]

Benjamin J. Poss Gulak[1][7] was born in 1989[8] in Milton, Ontario.[4] He is the only child of Ken and Sylvie Gulak. His father is in the food business, and his mother is a psychotherapist.[9] Gulak's grandfather was a design engineer,[10] and at a young age Gulak would help his grandfather tinker in his basement machine shop.[1] He spent much of his childhood making model trains, rockets, and other projects,[1] and was a fan of inventor Nikola Tesla.[11] His grandfather died in 2003, and Gulak inherited the machine shop.[8][10]

In ninth grade, he entered a school science fair with a "real simple magnetic car that shot around a track using accelerator coils."[1][10] He ended up being chosen to represent Canada on an International Level on Team Canada, which consists of 18 people competing against 54 other countries.[1] According to Gulak, his classes subsequently suffered as he frequently skipped school to work on further science fair projects.[11] In 2005, he entered in McMaster Engineering's summer L.E.A.P. program, where he was a team leader in the robotics program and helped the team win a robot-building competition.[12]

BPG Motors[edit]

The Uno[edit]

While a senior in highschool in 2006, Gulak began working on a design for the Uno following a trip to China with his father.[13] After witnessing major smog pollution caused by heavy use of small motor vehicles,[14] he decided he wanted to create an eco-friendly alternative to submit to a science fair.[1][2] According to Gulak, "I wanted it to be something small enough to store indoors: you could bring it up to your apartment to plug in and charge, and then you could ride it around on the road."[11] His first designs were on Google SketchUp.[15]

His initial design efforts consisted of an iron frame with wheelchair motors, batteries and gyroscopes.[2] He described his first test-ride as "absolutely terrifying" and resulting in a crash and a chipped kneecap.[2] Other early problems, including a series of electrical fires, arose. He was then joined by California robotics expert Trevor Blackwell,[2] and together they refined the Uno's gyro control system so the machine would properly balance and move smoothly.[2] Gulak then used the revised plans to develop a prototype vehicle with the help of various partners.[1][2][16][17] The Uno is an electric-powered vehicle that bears a resemblance to a motorized unicycle. Described in news reports as either a "one wheeled motorcycle" or "electric unicycle", it is more accurately a dicycle, created by placing two closely spaced wheels side-by-side at the centre-point of the vehicle.[3] He began building the prototype at a motorcycle shop outside Toronto.[5]

He entered his first Uno through Team Canada during the 2008 international science fair.[1] The vehicle had its first public unveiling at the Toronto Spring Motorcycle Show in 2008,[4] and was awarded a Top-10 prize on Popular Science's list of 2008 Invention Awards [5][18][19] In an episode of the CBC series Dragons' Den, Gulak obtained $1,250,000 of venture capital for a 20% share in further development of the Uno cycle.[6][20][21][22] He also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to talk about the project.[9]

He put off attending MIT for a year to work on the project,[9] raising funds and moving to Boston to open a small office in Cambridge.[11] He started the company BPG Motors to develop the motorcycle.[17][23] He enrolled in MIT in fall of 2008.[8][24]

The Shredder[edit]

At age 22 while at MIT, Gulak partnered with Ryan Fairhead who created the DTV Shredder, an all-terrain vehicle. According to Gulak, "In a recession it doesn't make sense to have to buy an expensive snowmobile that you can ride for three months of the year and an all-terrain vehicle that you can ride for four months of the year. Ryan wanted to make something small enough that you could fit it in the back of any car. And He wanted it to be something you'd be able to ride all year, whether in snow, sand, or mud."[11] The small vehicle has Segway-like handlebars, wheels similar to tank treads, and can tow up to 400 pounds.[17]

The vehicle became popular with X Games fans.[6] In late 2010, Gulak posted some videos of a prototype online, which by the next day had accumulated 50,000 hits, and a million hits within a week. Some bloggers assumed it was a new military device, while Gulak claims it was also intended as an extreme sports vehicle.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "It's Unique - but can it Pop a Wheelie?". Glenn Roberts. Motorcycle Mojo. May–June 2008. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Uno and only". James F. Quinn. Chicago Tribune. June 29, 2008. Archived from the original on September 13, 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Gyro Technology". Archived from the original on December 27, 2010. Retrieved 3 March 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c supershowevents.com, Toronto Spring Motorcycle Show, accessed 01-02-2009
  5. ^ a b c "2008 Invention Awards". Popular Science. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009. Retrieved 2008-12-31. 
  6. ^ a b c Erdely, Sabrina Rubin (October 28, 2011). "How Inventor Ben Gulak Went From Science-Fair Nerd to the Playboy Mansion". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  7. ^ "BPG Uno III Transforming Scooter Unveiled". Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c "Inventor of the week - Ben Gulak". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. August 2008. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  9. ^ a b c "Teen's electric unicycle a sensation". Trish Crawford. Toronto Star. June 3, 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c "Inventor's dream of electric bike brought to life". Josh Max. New York Daily News. June 30, 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Fellows Friday with Ben Gulak". Ted Blog. January 21, 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  12. ^ "Inventor of electric unicycle a L.E.A.P. graduate". McMaster University. June 4, 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  13. ^ "Electric Uno has two wheels but it's not a motorbike". Motoring. June 29, 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  14. ^ "The Uno Electric Motorcycle, or MotorUnicycle". Matt Embrey. Green Upgrader website. May 8, 2008. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  15. ^ "Uno: a Unicycle-Motorbike-Segway Hybrid". Kit Eaton. Gizmodo. April 25, 2008. Archived from the original on 30 January 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  16. ^ "'Uno' You Want It. - MIT hopeful Ben Gulak creates an eco-friendly bike chock full of power and 'cool'". Sean Rushton. Innovation Canada. July 24, 2007. Archived from the original on 24 December 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2008. 
  17. ^ a b c "Uno motorcycle reconfigures itself on the fly". Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  18. ^ "YSF Alumnus, Ben Gulak's "Uno" featured on cover of June 2008 Popular Science". Youth Science Foundation Canada. May 13, 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  19. ^ "The Zero-Emissions One-Wheeled Motorcycle". Bjorn Carey. Popular Science. May 13, 2008. Archived from the original on 5 January 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  20. ^ "Episode 6: All Dragons want part of Uno deal". Financial Post. November 14, 2008. Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  21. ^ "Motorcycle Mojo presents footage of Ben Gulak on the CBC show Dragons' Den". Motorcycle Mojo. Motorcycle Mojo website. Archived from the original on 27 December 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2009. 
  22. ^ "Teen Designed Motorcycles". Mary Teresa Bitti. Trendhunter Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 January 2009. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 
  23. ^ "BPG Motors UNO". Retrieved 3 December 2011. 
  24. ^ "Who Is Ben Gulak?". James S. Robbins. National Review. August 13, 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2009. 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]