TU Delft, together with the bicycle manufacturer Gazelle, has developed the prototype of a crash-proof e-bike. The intelligent control assistant intervenes as soon as the electric bike threatens to tip over and keeps the bike stable and upright at speeds of over 4 km/h.
The so-called steer assist is also used to control the bike’s speed. The stabiliser is made possible by a motor built into the handlebars and connected to a steering assistance system. “It’s actually technically quite simple,” says Dr Arend Schwab of TU Delft. “You need a sensor that detects when the bike is falling over, a motor that can adjust the steering and a processor to control the motor. The hardest part is finding the right algorithms for the processor, which was where our scientific research into bicycle stability proved enormously important,” says Schwab. Bicycle company Gazelle brings practical experience to the project.
The next step involves extensive practical tests with the e-bike prototype. The Dutch Organisation for Scientific Studies (NWO)’s perspective programme “Citius, Altius, Sanius” will fund researchers to continue working on improving the system for the next four years. Still, it may take a few years before the prototype is ready for the market, but smart systems like the steer-assist will likely become commonplace in the bicycle industry in the coming years, both TU Delft and Gazelle anticipate. The research is done to address an increase in accidents involving electric bikes and seniors.