A Self-Driving Bicycle Is Something To Marvel At

One of the most annoying things about bicycles is that they don’t stay up on their own, especially when they’re stationary. That’s why they come with stands, after all. That said, if you had plenty of advanced electronic and mechanical equipment fitted to one, you could do something about that, and that’s just what [稚晖君] did.

The video of the project comes without subtitles or any translation, but the gist of it is this. A reaction wheel is fitted to the seat tube, along with a motor which can turn the handlebars via a linkage attached to the head stem. There’s also a motor to drive the bicycle forward via a friction drive to the rear wheel. Combine these with an inertial measurement unit and suitable control system, and you have a bike that can balance while standing perfectly still.

The performance of the system is impressive, and is even able to hold the bike perfectly upright while balanced on a fence rail. Thanks to an onboard camera and LIDAR system, the bike can also drive itself around with no rider on board, which is quite a spooky image. Find a way to do the same while hiding the extra mechanics and you’d have one hell of a Halloween display.

Similar projects have been attempted in the past; we featured a self-balancing bike built as a university project back in the distant past of 2012. Video after the break.

[Thanks to Jumy Elerossë for the tip!]

43 thoughts on “A Self-Driving Bicycle Is Something To Marvel At

    1. Got to test it befor assuming witchcraft. Put it in a sack and throw it in the local pond. If it floats (and still works presumably), then it’s clearly a witch and must be burned.

      Don’t suppose there’s a black cat hanging around somewhere?

      More sensibly, rather like traditional non electric bikes. They help me be less fat.

    1. I heard there are more bicycles in the Netherlands than people. With that in mind, this project makes perfect sense. When there are not enough riders, bikes gotta ride themselves.

  1. This is amazing work! Also I like the idea of using autonomous bikes to deliver stuff rather than the little 4×4-coolers that they are testing out in the bay area right now. Bikes are fast, efficient, and we have more infrastructure for them.

  2. Nicely done but isn’t the LIDAR unit blocked in its view dead ahead by the steering mechanism ? I suppose a narrow blindspot there isn’t a disaster but why not mount the LIDAR higher up?

      1. I talked with one of them at a robot convention or some event. I recall they just didn’t properly start it on the run and was disqualified you can see in early tests it worked just fine.

    1. Yeah this might be better. One time in the old west a sheriff’s horse showed up with a naked woman on his back. The sheriff said ” I told you…. Get the posse !”

  3. The spinning wheel normal to the direction of motion stabilizes the bicycle like an inertia wheel pendulum (a.k.a. reaction wheel pendulum). If you have ever taken a course in Control Theory, there’s a good chance you have encountered the inverted inertia wheel pendulum stabilization problem. The servo controlled front wheel direction also helps to stabilize the bicycle. It is likely a PID (or PIDs) and/or Kalman filtering is being used. Tuning a system like this is difficult; simulation helps. This video is a good example of the inverted inertia wheel pendulum problem realized:

    * Trajectory tracking controller for the inertia wheel pendulum

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQiu3BKMPVk

  4. It’s impressive. Marvellous. Having said that: the bike seems stabilized by the gyro only; normally, you stabilize a bicycle by continuously adjusting the steer it to make it stay below your weight. Well I guess that’s another project…

  5. Impressive feat. But much too limited. A bike is at its best when in motion and the wheels act like gyros. Then you have this beautiful physical equilibrium of speed and balance at play.
    I want to see these motors and computer harmonise with these physical principles and let the bike ride with grace.

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