Car maker Ford has introduced a smart electric bike that can be folded into the boot of a car to help commuters overcome traffic jams.
Part of the Detroit-headquartered car manufacturer’s ‘Handle on Mobility’ experiment, the bike, coming in two versions for private and professional use, has been showcased at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.
“What we are announcing here in Barcelona is what we call ‘Handle on Mobility’ which is a couple of experiments around connected bikes and how we can continue to give people choice and independence and bridge the gap between the car and a real multimodal transport experience,” said Richard Brown, from Ford’s Future of Mobility initiative.
“We have ModeMe for private use and ModePro for professional use, both underpinned by an app called Mode Link.”
While the driver travels toward his or her destination, the app, running on an iPhone6, evaluates available traffic data and instructs the driver when and where to stop the car, take the electric bike from the boot and continue the journey cycling.
“Our hypothesis is that people would want to have that kind of flexibility,” said Ford’s John Stanger. “We have designed a holder in the back of the car that will help get the bike in and out of the car and you can charge it in there to give you these options to help you move more efficiently through the city.”
The two bikes, designed by Ford’s artists Paul Wraith and Brice Southey are equipped with a 200-watt motor good for pedal-assisted speeds of 25kph.
Smart sensors in the rear of the bike can alert the driver with a vibration if there are cars coming from behind. To further improve the driver’s safety, the bike automatically flashes its lights to, in turn, inform the car driver about the biker’s presence.
“When you on the bike, you don’t have to look at the actual phone screen, it gives you haptic feedback, so that you know if there is a junction there and you can turn the lights on, you can sound the horn that we have so all of these things make you more visible,” Stanger said.
Ford said the e-bikes are so far only experimental and may never be introduced to the market.
A continuation of the firm’s smart mobility initiative introduced at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, the project is one of the first steps for the car maker towards harnessing the wealth of mobile and cloud-based data for adaptable mobility.
“We are living in the world when we have the technology and the capability to create new value through connected vehicles and Ford wants to be at the forefront of that activity, creating new value for the customer and enabling people to live their lives,” Brown said.