Dutch team to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days on ‘connected’ electric motorbikes


In order to demonstrate the potential of electric transport, two student-built electric motorbikes are undertaking an 80-day around-the-world tour, aided by the latest in connected vehicle technology.

Just over a week ago, a team of 23 students from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands set off with a pair of its self-built Storm Wave electric motorcycles on an around-the-world journey, aiming to cover 16,155 miles (26,000km) in 80 days, and visit 16 countries along the way.

The Storm World Tour began in the Netherlands, starting a route that circumnavigates the northern hemisphere east to west, leaving Europe and passing through central Asia, China, and then crossing North America, before returning to Eindhoven on November 2 this year.

The motorcycles have been developed and built from scratch by the TU/e team. The bikes have been equipped with the SmeshGear system, a new type of planetary 2-step transmission that gives them exceptional performance and efficiency. Each electric motorbike has a top speed of 100mph (160km/h) and can travel 236 miles (380km) before requiring a recharge. The student-designed lithium-ion batteries are constructed from 24 separate cartridges that can store as much as 28.5kWh of energy, and can be replaced by a fully charged battery pack within seven minutes. The batteries have a full charging time of eight hours, but can get a 0-80% fast-charge in 38 minutes. Each day, the students will re-charge batteries from the local power grid at companies, universities or homes en route. The team will also take part in events along the way that show the potential of electric mobility.

The bikes are equipped with world-leading vehicle communication technology from Australian company Cohda Wireless. The motorcycles contain the company’s MK5 onboard units (OBUs), powered by NXP’s chipsets, which enable V2X (vehicle-to-vehicle and infrastructure) communications. As well as monitoring motorbike performance during the journey, Cohda plans to demonstrate how V2X systems can improve vehicle safety and traffic efficiency in cities with V2X infrastructure installed.

Cohda’s vice president of business development, Bernd Luebben, said, “We are proud to sponsor this trailblazing event. We are supplying our MK5 OBUs for the motorcycles and support vehicles. Our MK5 OBUs allow real-time communication to ensure the motorbikes perform according to design and meet this demanding schedule. We also plan to support V2X demonstrations in cities such as Shanghai where we have V2X units installed.”

TomTom is also supporting the challenge, and have provided navigation devices, along with their Bandit action cameras, so that the team can shoot and share footage of the journey. “Showing the world what tomorrow’s transport should look like is inherent to our mission,” said Bas Verkaik from Storm Eindhoven. “That’s why we are so happy to have a big brand like TomTom on board, that is known for being a leader in this area. Besides that, they have shown incredible commitment to our project, which was not only translated into technical support. Their global network and expertise in marketing have been of great value as well.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).