Thursday, January 22, 2015


Let's talk about Otto.

Otto is the result of a 25 person team working over the fall 2014 semester in the class 2.009: Product Engineering Processes at MIT. This is the mechanical engineering capstone class and as the name implies, it focuses on teaching about how products are made. Luckily, the faculty strongly believe in learning by doing.

This is what the work flow looks like over the course of 3 months. The basic breakdown is idea generation, idea selection, refinement, a few rounds of concept models, refinement, final product selection, refinement, functionally complete prototype, refinement, alpha prototype, end of term.

UPDATE: Discovery Canada produced a video on the 2.009 class as a whole. Take a look here.

Let's jump right into the alpha prototype and work backwards from there.

Otto is a new kind of truck for long boarding. When a rider's weight is off of the board a braking mechanism automatically engages to stop the board. This keeps the board from getting away from the rider when he falls off to prevent damage to the board, inconvenience, and traffic accidents.

The motion between the uppermost plate and the truck body actuates cables connected to the brake pads on either side. The brake pads contact the long board's wheels directly to stop the board.

The video below is our team's final presentation. It's a great overview of what Otto is all about. There are many other videos from other teams on the 2.009 homepage. There is also a lot of good information if you want to learn more about the class.

This is tho not quite finished form of the truck. Still some machining to do.The upper portion, called the hanger, is sand cast aluminum and the steel axle is captured inside by a process called overmolding. I spent many hours hand filing the rough casting to the smooth curves shown above.

These two machined parts are connected as a hinge allowing the relative motion that actuates the brake pad. The six hole pattern is the standard mounting for long boards and skateboards.

This is an earlier version of the truck. This was the first model that worked using the final mechanism. Many other actuation and sensing schemes were thought up, written down, built, and tested.

This is a part of another configuration we tried; an electric version of the board. Capacitive sensing across the deck would be used to detect the rider's foot and spin the motor to push the peg into the wheel.

This is as far back as I can go. This is the first sketch of the idea that turned into Otto. Out of hundreds of ideas we narrowed and refined to what you see at the top of this page. I an very grateful to my team and the fabulous instructors that made this experience possible. To any MIT students, course 2 or otherwise: I highly recommend you take this class and put all you can into it.

Otto was very well received at the presentations and our team has been talking about how we want to proceed with the idea.

I may be updating this page in the furture.

Until next time.