The XTND Board is a lightweight and intelligent electric vehicle that redefines urban transportation.
Latest Updates from Our Project:
A Quick Motor Testing Report
8 months ago
– Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 05:41:08 PM
We went to test the motors in the facilities of Brno University of Technology accompanied by our motor and battery manufacturers as well as technical advisors. We had 3 different motor variants to test and ultimately to choose one that would be used for the final run of prototype development and then mass production.
The testing showed that, unfortunately, none of the variants were quite what we were aiming for. But that’s absolutely normal. Though it might look as bad news at first sight, the outcome is actually positive because it gave us the answers we were looking for, and that’s what testing is for. Figuring out which ways are not the ones to go is just as important as figuring out the right ones.
So, what will happen now is more testing of further iterations that we already have lined up for next week, which will be a quicker process than it has been till now. In the meantime, we’re working on ESC and a new deck design to accommodate the batteries we mentioned in the previous update and will hopefully get back to in the next one.
Thank you all for your awesome support!
- XTND team
The good, the bad, and the surprise
8 months ago
– Tue, Apr 03, 2018 at 11:19:35 PM
In the recent weeks, we’ve been going through a lot of decision making. We’ve also made a lot of changes and a huge progress in terms of product development as well as our company as such.
Here’s what we’ve been up to.
One of the keys to building a successful company is having a stable environment and team. We’ve been working on this from the start of the year, which led us to move to bigger and much better premises. The new environment makes a significant difference for our efficiency and growth. Plus, we have a lot more opportunities and new technologies at our disposal as well as new talents.
Along with the change of scenery, there have been a few changes in our team as well and now we’re very pleased to say two new colleagues joined our ranks: Martin Gren and Marian Galba.
Martin is an unstoppable and ingenious mechanical engineer who’s helped us make a significant progress in a very short time. Having worked for a project designing flying cars, Martin has an impressive mechanical background and experience with R&D in mobility.
Marian is a promising talent in charge of the board’s design that will join us full-time as of next month so we’ll tell you how he’s doing in the next update. We’re very happy to have them both.
The motor development is in full swing as you’re reading this update. We are aware of our promise to you, backers, to deliver you a great performing motor in a compact package. Therefore the progress is slower and more demanding than if we just buy the motors from China and rebrand them.
Over the course of our Kickstarter campaign, we didn’t go into much detail about our drive technology mainly because we didn’t want to give away our know-how. In any case, there have been quite a few changes concerning the motors. The biggest change from the design we posted on Kickstarter is that we got rid of the planetary gearbox. It’s because the gearbox was too unreliable and too noisy, and we want to give you the best user experience we can achieve.
The reason we spent well over 18 months developing our very own motor with the planetary gearbox is that it allowed us to use only one motor to achieve the desired output. This solution had a great impact on the overall weight of the board without having to compromise on output or range. Nevertheless, we came to the conclusion that it’s not the best solution in the long run.
Technology advances every day and we’re glad to say that we ourselves made a huge progress concerning the motor. At the end of the last year, we designed a motor that has similar parameters as the one with a gearbox. Manufacturing the prototype, unfortunately, took several months while we were waiting for special materials, magnets and tools. We used the best materials available in order to get the best results.
There will be a few more iterations, but we’re on the right track. We are focusing on their performance and heat generation in particular. The motor will be less noisy and more easily manageable, which we believe you’ll appreciate.
Over the last couple of weeks, we also paid a lot of attention to the final design of the battery pack. While we were working on several iterations with our manufacturers, we also had some serious discussions about what type of batteries to use in the mass production of the board. After careful consideration and much thought about the pros and cons we chose Li-Ion batteries as opposed to the Li-Pol batteries we used originally. We chose Li-Pol batteries primarily because of their low profile dimensions, the ability to provide high amps as well as their high specific energy capacity, meaning a ratio between stored energy and a unit’s weight.
However, we decided to go with Li-Ion batteries mainly because Li-Pol batteries are sensitive to higher temperatures, which makes them susceptible to damage or even explosions. They are also more difficult to manage in terms of depletion, they break more easily and have a shorter lifespan.
These are very significant findings that led us to rethink our choices. Since safety is our primary concern, we decided to favor the safer battery type even at the expense of the few extra millimeters they’ll take up.
We believe it’s a step in the right direction and that the batteries along with our energy efficient motors will make a great combo.
Things that aren’t going that great
We had to end a cooperation with our marketing agency. We know some of you have pointed out that we don’t communicate enough here as well as on social media. The primary reason for this is that we hired a marketing agency that was supposed to help us work out a systematic, consistent communication strategy so that it would be done in an expert and well-thought-out way, for which we were waiting several months. But despite the recommendations we got for them, we were very disappointed. It took us over 6 months of very unfortunate cooperation with absolutely no results to finally come to terms with the fact that they weren’t the way to go. It took us this long because we didn’t want to throw away the time, effort and money we’ve put into it by now, but here we are. We’ve learned an important lesson and we’ll do it differently now.
Hardships of hardware startups
They say hardware is hard. We can certainly testify to that - building a hardware company from the ground is a real challenge. We wish we could tell you everything is going smoothly, but this is a world where nothing is ideal or goes according to plan. We’re very sorry about the delay, w know it’s not exactly great, but we’re dealing with it the best and quickest way we can. The whole team is putting in maximum effort to deliver the boards to you as soon as possible. We cannot tell you how much we value your support, especially when it’s not all going great. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together and we want nothing more than for you to ride our boards across the globe.
Lastly, the refunds. We understand this might be inconvenient for some, but we had to put a freeze on refunds until the boards are delivered due to mounting complications related to them that are proving to be considerable setbacks. It is a difficult decision to make, but it's necessary for our project to succeed. Though we wish we could oblige you all in every way, as we understand anyone can find themselves in a difficult situation or simply change their mind, we have to focus on our mission at hand, but it won’t be possible if we have to keep sorting out issues with refunds, not to mention what a waste of resources it is for us as well as you. Moreover, there are plenty of ridiculous fees connected to refunds that devalue the money we all put in and it’s just not possible that we shoulder the fees ourselves if we want to keep this project alive. We understand that this decision will bring all sorts of negative reactions, but we have to stick to our decision.
To leave on a nicer note
XTND T-shirts, XTND T-shirts for everyone!
The reason we’ve been urging you to make sure we have your correct addresses, besides the obvious, is that we have XTND T-shirts prepared for you all. It was supposed to be the surprise we hinted at in the previous update, but we’re still waiting for packing we commissioned and for some of you to complete your addresses. We hope to send them out soon, but it might be a few weeks. We will let you know in any case when we are about to ship them so that you can keep an eye out for them.
Anyway, that’s it for now. If we want you to take away one thing from this update, it’s that despite all the complications the startup life throws at us, we’re still alive and kicking, making huge progress every day. We believe that together we’ll achieve what we’ve set out to do. Plus, given the progress we’ve been making, you can expect more frequent updates from us.
Thank you all for sticking with us!
- Your XTND team
New progress, challenges and delivery dates
11 months ago
– Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 11:39:32 AM
Hope you all had nice holidays, got some rest and kicked 2018 off with the right foot. We got some rest as well, but we haven’t been idle. Here’s some of the things that kept us busy.
Most of our attention has been set on the motors over the last few weeks. As we mentioned in the previous update, we’ve been looking for a new supplier, but unfortunately, it’s a very slow process. At the end of last year, we started working with a company that fits our demands and now we’re waiting for them to deliver the samples we designed. Since we designed a completely new motor from scratch and all of its parts are custom-made, it takes a few weeks to manufacture the samples (it requires special materials and tools, neodymium magnets and so on).
As for the sensors, the biggest challenge is to optimize the pressure sensor so that it is precise and reliable. We’re running a lot of different tests, measurements and optimizations at the moment.
On the software engineering front, we have made a good progress improving the board’s firmware, as well as setting up the analytics and optimization pipeline.
Firmware is a program that runs on the board computer and manages things like collecting sensor data, communicating with the remote controller, operating the motor, turning on/off the lights, and running smart algorithms that optimize battery and motor performance. In the last two months, we’ve worked on better integration of the individual processes, as well as tighter cooperation with the motor’s driving unit.
The analytics pipeline enables us to collect anonymous usage and performance data, store them in the cloud, and train AI models, which we can then send back to the boards to teach them new tricks. This process is very similar to how Tesla cars learn from each other how to act in various driving situations. The data that we collect during testing will help us train the initial behavior of the board’s AI features. However, some of the smart features will need more data from real world use, and you can expect to continually receive firmware updates as we improve the features over time.
Shipping schedule updated
All of us are painfully aware we were supposed to deliver the boards at the beginning of this year. But we had to deal with unexpected setbacks, such as drawn-out issues with banks or suppliers, and it created a delay.
We’re sorry that we can’t make our optimistic estimate work and deliver the boards in the first half of 2018. We’re all working hard to get it done as soon as possible, but it takes time. Every bit of work on the board is crucial and every minor mistake we don’t eliminate at this stage would be much harder and much more expensive to fix down the road. That’s why we need a bit more time.
Here’s the updated shipping schedule:
Super Early Bird - August, 2018
Early Bird - September, 2018
Kickstarter Exclusive - October, 2018
Pre-orders (3-4Q 2017) - November, 2018
Pre-orders (2018) - December, 2018
In the meantime, we’re preparing a small surprise for you to make the wait more bearable. Just make sure that we have your current addresses.
Thank you all for bearing with us. It wouldn’t be possible without your support and patience.
Winter is coming
about 1 year ago
– Tue, Nov 28, 2017 at 08:10:13 AM
The time is flying by relentlessly and there are a few things we’d like to share with you.
There is still a number of you who haven’t completed their survey yet. This information is crucial for the whole manufacturing process so we would like to ask you to do it as soon as possible. You should have received a couple of BackerKit reminders as well as an email from us by now. If you haven’t, or if you have any questions or issues, please get in touch with us so that we can sort it out. You can reach us at email@example.com.
Come shape the future with us
We’ve decided to reinforce our ranks so we’re currently looking for suitable talents to join us. The XTND team is built on incredible people, but we know there are more of you out there. We want to give more people the opportunity to realize their potential and help change the way people think about urban transport. Right now, we’re primarily looking for mechanical engineers, firmware engineers, and electrical engineers, but not exclusively! Do you think you have what it takes or know anyone who does? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Challenges we’re facing
We have both good news and bad news. The bad news is that at this point we are certain there will be a delay with the delivery, for which we are sincerely sorry. There are no shortcuts in making something epic and we simply do not compromise on quality, but there is a downside to that. Setting up our development and production process will take longer than expected. We will be informing you about our progress regularly, but it is hard to estimate the total impact at this point.
The good news is that even though we will have to wait a bit longer to hit the streets on the XTND Boards, it will be absolutely worth it. We have the best minds of the industry working for us and we are excited about our first-born more than ever. You have put a lot of trust into us, which means the absolute world to us. We’re just asking to extend that trust for a little longer.
After finishing the complete specification of the board, we launched into creating and improving the architecture of all the systems. The result is a development interface that is not exactly the final version of the board yet, but its reliability and functionality are meeting our requirements.
At the moment, we’re focusing on optimizing the key function, which is the board’s drive. It’s essential that the board is reliable and works the way it’s supposed to. Designing and manufacturing a top electric motor is a challenge that is as good as alchemy. It is one of the reasons we had to change our supplier for motor manufacturing. We still have a lot of work and testing ahead, which will take some time, but we’re on the right track. As for controlling the motors, we made a huge progress. Our new speed controller is nearly half the size with multiple operational capacity. We are rather satisfied with the accuracy with which we can control the board even at lower speed.
We have also tested dozens of various components and sensors to find those that complied with our requirements in terms of quality and durability. Then, we made the first draft of PCB that we’ll keep revising until it’s all ready for mass production. We primarily devoted time to automatization and pressure sensors that are very important to us.
As for the software, we have made further progress with our algorithm and data analysis. We’re training our brain on sample data that we generate in an artificial interface.
In the upcoming weeks, we’ll be focusing more on design and user experience that starts with individual parts of the product and continues through packaging and unboxing to the very first ride. We want everything to be clear and simple so that you can have the best experience possible.
Thank you for your support as well as all the encouragement that you keep showing us. It constantly inspires us and drives us forward.
- Your XTND team
Brief BackerKit Update
about 1 year ago
– Mon, Oct 16, 2017 at 10:14:05 AM
Firstly, there are still some of you who haven’t completed their survey yet so we’d like to ask you to do it as soon as possible - otherwise you’ll be getting those awkward email reminders until you finally do it and we’re sure nobody likes that. If you need any help with the survey, just let us know and we’ll sort it out.
Secondly, we want to let you know we’ve made the XTND Board available to pre-order on BackerKit for the general public so if you know about anyone who wants their own XTND Board and missed our campaign, you can give them the good news! We’re very excited about it as there has been quite a demand for the boards after the end of the campaign. Nevertheless, we’ll be glad if you help us spread the word, too!
Hope everyone is doing swell and we’ll be looking forward to the rest of your surveys!