When the dutch Google subsidiary published a video of their self-driving bicycles being able to contribute to economic productivity and relieving mothers in early 2016, it quickly became clear that this must be an April fool’s joke. As convincing as the video was made, it was just a great April fools joke.
But this April fool’s joke has been now surpassed by reality. Transportation network provider Uber revealed in January 2019, that the company is working on self-driving e-bikes and e-scooter. TThat makes a lot of sense, because today human ‘pickers’ have to collect and distribute them for maintenance and demand purposes across the city.
But now scientists from Tsinghua University in China under the leadership of Prof. Luping Shi presented the prototype of a self-driving bicycle. The vehicle has built-in stabilizers, as well as a new AI-chip, which allows to control the bicycle with voice commands. “Speed up,” “left,” and “right”are command the bike can react to. The video also shows the bike reacting to and avoiding obstacles on the test track.
The AI-chip is using a so-called Spiking Neural Network (SNN), which emulates the human brain. The Chinese name of the chip is ‘Tianjic’ (天机*), meaning ‘heavenly machine,’ ‘unknowable mystery of nature,’ or ‘confidentiality.’
And here is the Google video from 2016:
This article was also published in German.