This Bike Will Ride Itself to Your Side

Fancy a bicycle ride with the ease of summoning it like a cab from Ola or Uber?  It does sound extremely futuristic, but this is something which we might see in one or more of our smart cities being planned, thanks to a team of nine students from IIT-Kharagpur (where else!). The students have developed an i-Bike which can be summoned using an app, and is capable of navigating to its destination on its own without a rider (like magic) — this effectively means no more parking worries and no need to wheel a bike to a parking spot, making the bike sound like something straight out of The Jetsons. Impressively, and understandably, the team has filed a patent for the bike.

Illustration: Tapas Ranjan

The bike uses a torsional spring-base trainer wheel mechanism for balancing. Ayush Pandey (21), a student of Electrical Engineering and a member of the team, explains that the team decided to not use electronic control as it was complicated, and they wanted something that would be useful for the society. So they went for mechanical control. A rechargeable 24V battery drives the bike when it’s autonomous, and the brakes are also automatic to ensure safety. The steering is manipulated by a motor. The bike, when it’s autonomous, has a top speed of 25 km/hr. It was from the empathy the students felt for differently-abled people that the idea for the bike took shape. Ayush explains, “We all drives bicycles here at IIT-Kharagpur to reach our classes. At the time, we realised there were some differently-abled people who had trouble picking up the cycles. So we tried to tackle that problem by incorporating autonomous parking and parking retrieval. So this was our basic motivation initially.”

As the team worked on the bike, they began to think big, and began to incorporate other ideas into the design. As a result, they ended up working on the bike for one-and-a-half years. “We realised that bicycles help reduce pollution, but people don’t use them much as they are inconvenient in cities. There are bicycle sharing systems in some cities, but even those don’t work as the bicycle stations may not be close to the destination. So what we are tackling is this last-mile transportation.”

Ayush talked up the team’s ambitious plans for the future. “We are in contact with some people from the industry, and after the patent comes through we’ll be contacting them and are planning to license them to companies in European countries as the bicycle sharing system is already in place there, so this bicycle would fit in with those systems.

The timing of the announcement of the smart cities project across the country has actually come at a very good time for the team, as Ayush reckons their concept is immensely implementable in the smart cities.

The i-bike was one of the winning ideas at the KPIT Sparkle 2016, a national science contest.

This post was originally published by The New Indian Express

By Tushar Kaushik