Ford announces electric bike project to make city journeys smarter

The automaker's e-bike experiment has debuted at MWC 2015.


Ford's prototype electric bicycles have been debuted at Mobile World Congress as part of the automaker's plans to make commuting smarter.

The automaker revealed the electric bicycles on Monday as part of the firm's Ford Smart Mobility plan -- a long-term project designed to change city transport through Big Data, connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles and data collection.

One facet of the project is called Handle on Mobility, which Ford says is designed to develop transport solutions which are "more efficient, safer, healthier, and enable journeys to be completed with less anxiety and stress." As a starting point for the experiment, Ford has developed e-bikes, dubbed the MoDe:Me and MoDe:Pro, both of which were unveiled at Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona, Spain.

Both electric bicycles are equipped with a 200-watt motor and an 9-amp-hour battery which provides electrical assistance for pedal speeds of up to 25km/h. The foldable designs, the top two submitted out of over 100 sent into Ford as part of the project, also include smart elements such as a warning alert system which tells the rider when a vehicle is overtaking by vibrating both handlebars. Motorists are also warned of the presence of the e-bike thanks to handlebar illumination.

The MoDe:Me e-bike is intended for urban commuters looking to avoid the morning's congestion, while the MoDe:Pro e-bike is intended for couriers, electricians, and goods and delivery services, as it can be combined with more than one e-bike model.

Both prototypes are also connected to the web via a prototype app called MoDe:Link, which is compatible with the iPhone 6. If connected to the e-bike, the app collects and collates data in order to adjust the electrical pedal assist based on your heart rate, and is also strong in terms of navigation. The app can alert the rider of when to turn by vibrating one or the other handlebar grip, alert them to hazards and show maps detailing weather, parking costs and charging stations.

It is estimated that over 100 cyclists died over 2013 and 19,438 suffered injury due to an accident on UK roads. Economically, the European Commission claims that congestion within the European Union costs about €100 billion per year.

Such designs not only could improve the safety of our streets, but also hold the potential for big business. Traffic and congestion are part-and-parcel of Western cities, so any product which can reduce this -- as well as potentially be more eco-friendly -- may appeal to today's consumer.

Barb Samardzich, chief operating officer of Ford Europe commented:

"At Ford, we're innovating in every part of our business and we're open to smarter ways of keeping the world moving freely. Our commitment to mobility extends far beyond vehicles and includes investing in a range of mobility projects and experiments. Such ongoing research projects help us to find out what works and to develop smarter, more connected mobility solutions."

Last month, Ford announced participating in UK Autodrive -- a research project designed to explore how driverless and connected cars can integrate into everyday life. As a participant, Ford is currently developing two prototype cars with vehicle-to-vehicle communication capability.

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