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Transportation Technology

Autonomous Cars? How About Autonomous Bikes? 99

R3d M3rcury writes: So we've all heard about the brave new world of autonomous cars which will be at our beck-and-call. But how about an autonomous bike? The i-Bike (not to be confused with the iBike computer) is the winner of KPIT Sparkle 2016, the All India Science and Engineering Student Contest. It started off as a bicycle suitable for use by people with disabilities. If you could use a smartphone, you could ride a bike. But the developers realized that this could be part of a bike-sharing system. You could rent a bike at the train station, ride to work, and then have the bike automatically return to the train station for the next person. Of course, the obvious question is: Will the bike stop at stop signs?
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Autonomous Cars? How About Autonomous Bikes?

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  • An automated propulsion system superior the the abilities of human riders.

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      I'll finally realize my dreams of playing card games on motorcycles.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        I'm hoping for board games!

      • Several years ago I saw a youtube clip of some whit with his helmet up, feet on the handlebars texting. I was impressed at his skill and raw bravery, but I kept waiting for him to go over the handlebars.

        A lot of motorcycle riding is body positioning as part of the maneuver, so if you're not playing along with the 2 wheels game a standard on or off ramp could hurt pretty bad.
    • Not to sound Trumpish. But the reason why people are classified as disabled, is because there are things that that they cannot do that most other people are able to do. If you are unable to ride a bike, due to a disability, instead of trying put energy into a bike you can ride, you should focus on your wheel chair, or other means of locomotive.

      • by unrtst ( 777550 )

        I think this thing is pretty dumb, but the idea of helping some disabled people ride bikes is perfectly fine. This isn't meant to help someone that is currently incapable of riding a bike (or, at least it wasn't meant for that at the start of the project). It's meant to help get the bike to the person that would otherwise have trouble getting it from its spot. I suspect it's a very small target audience that would both have trouble getting it from the spot, and have a bike in a spot from which it was able t

  • If that's the case - how shall I get back from work, especially if I have a flexible working schedule?

  • Of course, the obvious question is: Will the bike stop at stop signs?

    That depends, is its goal as a self-driving vehicle to imitate a self-driving car, or move like a human is controlling it?

  • I can't believe how long it took me to notice the training wheels.
    • I can't believe how long it took me to notice the training wheels.

      Which makes the concept pretty useless. Training wheels make a bike more dangerous to ride. They need to just do a big trike, which would also provide better options for the physically impaired.

      • From TFA:

        Trainer wheels have been used for balancing the bike and these too are easily retractable with the help of a switch.

        IOW, the wheels can act like retractable landing gear on planes - down when taxiing (low speeds), up when the bike is moving fast enough to be self balancing.

    • I personally like the wrench, welded to the steering column....
  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @01:35AM (#51698269) Journal

    This reminds me of that app called 'Yo' that got funded.

    All it did was send the word 'Yo' to the recipient. That was the app. No joke, the developers claimed the Israeli Military wanted to use a version of it to alert citizens of possible rocket attacks.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Oh for Pete's sake, get some Pepto-Bismol. If you're worried about the millions of dollars that went into this, look at the pictures in TFA. It's a student project. An Indian student project.

      It's a mild steel bike frame with bare circuit boards glued to pieces of cardboard attacked to the frame with twist ties. Which to my mind makes this much cooler: it's a hack. The "balancing mechanism"? Training wheels. Which is good engineering; don't waste time and money on desirable but complicated stuff until y

      • If you're worried about the millions of dollars that went into this

        No, I'm worried about an entire industry that makes this mistake over and over, taking taxpayer dollars for hype bullshit.

        I'm worried about the shitty, uncreative, pointless work people are going to try to pay me to do because of how warped their idea of technology has become...I'm worried that will be the only work I can get.

        Lastly, I'm just worried about people...you can see the effects of the GOP defunding of public schools now...by how

  • Of course, the obvious question is: Will the bike stop at stop signs?

    Why is that an obvious question?

    Why wouldn't it stop at stop signs?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Why is that an obvious question?
      Why wouldn't it stop at stop signs?

      Because many human cyclists don't.
      They wanna drive on the street but not obey the rules of the road. Then, they play the pedestrian card if they get in an accident with a car, ignoring the laws of physics that say a two ton vehicle can't go from 30 mph to 0 under 50 feet.

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )
        A vehicle can go from 30 mph to 0 in 14 meters [brake.org.uk] (46 feet).
        • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

          I didn't write that to be mathematically accurate. Way to miss the point.
          Using that logic, why have stop signs in residential neighborhoods at all?

          • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

            Are there many stop signs that should not be replaced by yield signs or roundabouts?

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Roundabouts suck.

            • Are there many stop signs that should not be replaced by yield signs or roundabouts?

              Stop signs are round-robin scheduling. Roundabouts are priority scheduling; they can turn into blocking mechanisms that prevent traffic flow from one or more directions. They're okay for medium-traffic areas with lots of space, but the cities that are installing them are usually the high growth cities (they have newly acquired tax funds and no idea what to spend it on), so they'll have to replace the roundabouts with traffic lights eventually. More pork for construction companies.

        • Those are for UK cars. They are, on average, considerably smaller than those in the US.

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            Here in the USA we are starting to add roundabouts... problem is we are getting a lot of drivers piled up in the middle crying as they dont know what to do.

            Drivers here in the USA are pretty much as stupid as boxes of rocks because our drivers training and licensing system is designed so that even the incompetent can easily get and keep a drivers license.

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          "Can" being the obvious word. Depending on the quality of the brakes, tires, road surface, driver reaction and so on. Funny that ~two weeks ago, I nearly hit a cyclist who decided to blow through a red light. I was going 50km/h, and narrowly avoided them. Luckily a constable was sitting on the other side of the road, the last I saw of them they were being led off on handcuffs because they thought they didn't have to produce ID(in Ontario police can demand ID if a cyclist breaks the rules of the road).

        • by mjwx ( 966435 )

          A vehicle can go from 30 mph to 0 in 14 meters [brake.org.uk] (46 feet).

          That's braking distance, add the other 9 metres for the full stopping distance.

          Besides that, A cyclist will never be going 30 MPH, they're almost always doing under 10 MPH, often closer to 5. To see one doing 15 is a rare sight.

      • They wanna drive on the street but not obey the rules of the road. Then, they play the pedestrian card if they get in an accident with a car,

        Actually more people on bicycles means better safety, and less cars on the roads, peoples tendency to break traffic rules and laws are not linked to their mode of transportation. Lots of people drive too fast in a 30 km/h (20mph) zone, even though that is the most likely scenario for a car to kill someone, at 50 mph your kill rate is above 90% when you hit a pedestrian. When it's the people speeding that actually kill and hurt I think "playing pedestrian card" seems legit, speed matters a lot.

        With that

        • by emj ( 15659 )

          there was no incident were a bicycle was hit by a car at a red light.

          The database used was a personal injury database for a city of 1.5 million. So there might very well have been incidents just nothing were you went to the hospital or called the police.

        • Bicycles and pedestrians do not need traffic lights, so I think cycling and walking past traffic lights [vox.com] is something good.

          Try visualizing yourself as a pedestrian at an intersection with say about 20 bicyclists approaching you in parallel at 30 kmph; what it would be like getting hit by them? It won't be fatal of course but could still cause considerable injury. Traffic signals are needed because not everybody cares about driving etiquette; bicyclists are not an exception.

          • by svirre ( 39068 )

            You are missing the point. Even if they do not care about traffic signals you are practically just as unlikely to get his as if they were. (I agree it is a psychological difference, but that is all there is)

            Cyclists and pedestrians have less speed and more awareness of their physical size so they are able to negotiate through an intersection efficiently without traffic lights and without getting in each others way.

          • by dave420 ( 699308 )

            As someone who lives in a city with a lot of bikes, that doesn't happen. The cyclists will avoid the pedestrian and the pedestrian will avoid the cyclists. They don't all steer/walk towards each other screaming "BUT RED CRAB WARNED US THIS WOULD HAPPEN!" and explode like Michael Bay's best dream.

        • I agree. There is lots of 'carification' of cyclists, where it is assumed they are little cars. They aren't. In my fitter days I would regularly do 4min kms while out jogging, which meant moving along the pavement at 15kph. On a sprint I would push 3 min which is 20kph. A typical commuter cyclist does about that range, and a bike only adds 8-10kgs of weight. Unless you are scared of fit human runners, bikes are just not that dangerous.

          My main problem with the attitudes of cyclists towards drivers and driver

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            The reason cyclists are treated like cars rather than pedestrians in traffic law is not because of the danger they pose, but because they move quite a lot faster than a pedestrian (even a running one).
            There are plenty of situations where pedestrians are given right of way based on the idea that they are slow enough for a driver to see them coming from far away. If a driver had to expect a fast-moving cyclist in the same location, he would have to slow down in advance, leading to chaos and congestion.
            If cycl

        • by Malc ( 1751 )

          I think your theory breaks down when there are more than one or two cyclists going through the red light. Most cyclists do stop, so there are no numbers to disprove your theory.

      • by caino59 ( 313096 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @07:44AM (#51699091) Homepage

        This argument? Really? Yes, and every person driving an automobile stops at each and every stop light and always yields to peds...oh wait, they don't.

        And guess which one kills more people every year?

        • I don't own a car and bike a lot in the summer to get around.

          The thing with a bike is you have much greater visibility than people in cars and can break much more quickly than cars can.

          As long as the intersection is clear, I will blow through the stop sign. I am only risking myself by doing this. I will never injure someone in a car if I run a stop sign or red light.

          If the intersection is busy at all, I will wait for the signals just as I would in a car.

          What drives me crazy are cyclists who will use the sid

      • by Malc ( 1751 )

        I commute across London on bicycle most days, and the majority of cyclists stop at red lights. I drove down the M4 motorway at the weekend (in a car obviously), and noticed that most drivers were breaking the speed limit. It seems there are a lot of hypocrites out there.

  • So when a car (autonomous or otherwise) DOES hit and kill a rider of an autonomous bike following all roadway rules, how long are they going to be in business for? Even if liability is on the car, people are going to ask (pointedly, in front of a jury) why it doesn't do sanity checks to ensure it won't be hit, not just checks that it's following the laws. It's going to further raise questions of why not use an app to summon an autonomous car instead, in which you can lie down and take a nap, and be reasonab

  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @09:12AM (#51699503)

    In urban contexts the sight of autonomous bicycles stopping at signals, not blasting through crowds of pedestrians, and not darting through traffic from unexpected directions is going to feel downright weird, especially if they are being used for courier deliveries. We're going to have to program in some Bay Area behavior so they blend in more. It would be like having a "BMW mode" on your autonomous car.

    • +1 funny.
      Was a dumb question anyway; in India NOTHING stops for anything...except perhaps a cow in the street.

  • Computers taking over a car (and having doors for government or hackers) is scary enough, but now a bicycle? if that that starts, it may become mandatory. Imagine someone being able to lock your brakes from remove. I like my bicycles the way I like my legs: computer free. What's next, shoes?
  • "Of course, the obvious question is: Will the bike stop at stop signs?"

    And yet 99.9% of pedestrian injuries and deaths are caused by motor vehicle drivers, who also blow through stop signs and run red lights.

    Where were the jokes about autonomous cars running red lights, and how cities won't be the same without cars speeding, running red lights, not stopping for pedestrians, double parking, making turns without yielding to oncoming traffic, etc?

    When a bicyclist doesn't stop for a pedestrian, they bump and (b

    • A bicycle costs $500

      Sure. A crappy, heavy, low-quality bike, with a no-name component groupset, that you likely won't get your moneys' worth out of before something on it fails, then at that point you may as well chuck it in the recycle bin and get another one. You need to spend more like $1000 to get something of decent quality that, properly maintained, will give you your moneys' worth.

      99.9% of pedestrian injuries and deaths are caused by motor vehicle drivers

      Sure. Because cyclists are a tiny minority. You'd do better to express your statistics in this case as per-capita instead.

      When a bicyclist doesn't stop for a pedestrian, they bump and (both, probably) fall down

      You're assuming all

      • Re:low hanging fruit (Score:4, Informative)

        by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @01:54PM (#51701577)

        I live in New England, haven't owned a car in roughly a decade and have been commuting 20 minutes each way every day for work by bike in addition to whatever other daily transportation i need, and own/use snow tires for said bicycle. I also own a nice road bike which gets ridden on weeknight group rides and weekends. I started out on a $350 hybrid I bought from REI on special, and it lasted me several years and thousands of miles, until I decided I wanted something better.

        So yes, I do actually know what I'm talking about. And incidentally, Minnesota has more bike commuters per capita than many much warmer locations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        There have been dozens of studies over the years showing that riding a bicycle for transportation, even slowly, brings health benefits over people who sit in their cars for transportation: https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

        Oh, and which is it? Everyone flying along so fast they'll fatally injure pedestrians they smack into? Or people who "toddle around with their heartrate under 100bpm so slow it doesn't do them any good"? Hmm?

        Please, save the "you want to put grandma on an iceberg" crap. I wasn't advocating forcing people onto bicycles. I'm saying driverless cars aren't going to fix problems with congestion and pollution.

        • I'm saying driverless cars aren't going to fix problems with congestion and pollution.

          Well, at least we can agree on that. So-called 'autonomous cars' aren't going to be the reality that some think it'll be, it'll be an option on luxury cars, and it'll be more like a sophisticated cruise control, not a box on four wheels with no controls for a human driver. The vast majority of people are going to be driving themselves for quite some time to come.

      • Sure. A crappy, heavy, low-quality bike, with a no-name component groupset, that you likely won't get your moneys' worth out of before something on it fails, then at that point you may as well chuck it in the recycle bin and get another one. You need to spend more like $1000 to get something of decent quality that, properly maintained, will give you your moneys' worth.

        $500 is a common tier 2 bike that involves change of material for frames and upgraded components. Sure touring bikes are $1000~$1500 but the $500 will do commuting just fine with minimal changes

        How about the mother of three, one of which is still in diapers? You expect her to, what, stick the baby in a pannier, or in a backpack?

        T-R-A-I-L-E-R Worked great for when my son was 1 year old. See also: bakfiet, Emily Finch http://bikeportland.org/2012/06/28/with-six-kids-and-no-car-this-mom-does-it-all-by-bike-73731 [bikeportland.org]

        it's raining out

        Trailers are covered, and bakfiets have them as well

        parts of the country where it's below freezing during the winter, and there's snow everywhere? Ever ride in the snow?

        Studded bike tires, and if needed a fatbike.

        You ride 200 miles a week and don

        • Good troll sir, good troll.

          You misuse the word 'troll' like kids on the Internet misuse the word 'autistic'.

          Troll: One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.

          I'm not going to waste my time shitposting in the Internet just to get a reaction out of people; I write what I actually think, and if you or anyone else doesn't like what I think, then that's tough for you, but not liking what I have to say doesn't make me a 'troll'. Get it right.

      • by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @03:39PM (#51702583)

        A bicycle costs $500

        Sure. A crappy, heavy, low-quality bike, with a no-name component groupset, that you likely won't get your moneys' worth out of before something on it fails, then at that point you may as well chuck it in the recycle bin and get another one. You need to spend more like $1000 to get something of decent quality that, properly maintained, will give you your moneys' worth.

        I bought the cheapest bike I could find that seemed able to support my needs - 300lbs including luggage/groceries. It was $200, and I have put over 10k miles on it. I needed to replace my rear wheel after about 5k miles and a new chain since I am bad about cleaning it. It has an aluminum frame and seems really light compared to the schwinns and huffys I grew up with. Shimano gears, but I'm confident you can find a way to make fun of that.

        I've had so many bikes stolen over the years I can't bring myself to spend much on one. I find your pompous attitude that $1000 is the minimum buy-in to be a cyclist to be destructive.

        • I needed to replace my rear wheel after about 5k miles

          That shouldn't happen. A good wheelset should last you for years, at least 4 or 5 times that many miles.

          Shimano gears

          Probably one of their low-end groupsets but still better than no-name Chinese garbage that breaks in 3 months.

          I find your pompous attitude that $1000 is the minimum buy-in to be a cyclist to be destructive.

          Yeah sure thing buddy, you get all triggered. What I know is there are plenty of people out there who don't know any better than to buy cheap shitty Walmart (or other department store) bikes that start falling apart in just a few months, and then they think that all bikes are a ripoff and they won

          • by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @04:53PM (#51703223)

            That shouldn't happen. A good wheelset should last you for years, at least 4 or 5 times that many miles.

            Well, I can't be sure but I think the axle bent when I got hit by a car. There were also numerous potholes and driveway bumps and the fact that I am overloading the axle. I don't need my bike to be eternal, I treat it more like a consumable. Strangely, since I adopted this attitude it hasn't been stolen or destroyed in an accident but I've been burned enough to not get attached.

            you need to buy something quality, not cheap, and you get what you pay for when you buy a bike.

            Here you're just plain wrong. My bike is from Walmart, it was $200, and it has nearly 15,000 miles on it. I had the wheel replaced under warranty, if I bought a new wheel from the mfr it would have cost $50.

            I ride hard, maintain poorly, and still my cheap bike held up admirably.

            It is sad how many years I wasted, thinking that I didn't have what it takes to be a bike commuter, because of misguided people like you. I couldn't get over my heartbreak when I came back to my beloved Peugeot and it was beat to death by vandals in 1988. Now that I have realized cheap bikes are a good option I am a happy cyclist, putting at least 150 miles a week onto my trusty walmart bike.

            I know a bunch of people with expensive bikes who are afraid to take them anywhere, and a bunch more people without a bike at all because they think they need to spend 4 digits to get something decent.

  • I was thinking "Street Hawk" [wikipedia.org]... but then I saw the pictures.

    So... not Street Hawk then?!
  • I count four wheels, not two.

  • Put a box on top - with a large wheel can even go up stairs - deliver packages - less energy than drone delivery...

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