Only a few years ago the idea of an autonomous car was a science fiction thing. It was not conceived that such a technology would become real in the short or medium term. But once that barrier has been exceeded any vehicle could be self-piloted. This follows from the developments that have emerged lately.
It is not far-fetched to speak of autonomous ships at all. In fact, Japan has been launched to lead this step in the cargo ship industry. Around 2025 Japanese companies expect to launch the first freighters without human direction. It must be said that in reality, the form of control will be rather by remote, rather than fully autonomous. But technology goes in that same line.
There are also examples of autonomous vehicles on the air. In the field of drones, there have been important advances, which have resulted in larger aircraft, capable of transporting people. It seemed that the three means – land, air and sea – were covered until another twist has been raised.
Why not have autonomous bicycles? The proposal, in this case, comes from China. Although it is not the first nor will it be the last. There are projects that have worked to provide an autonomous driving system to a bike before. The novelty here is to demonstrate its operation and propose possible applications.
After all, technically it is not a challenge of great complexity. The part that requires more work could be the balance. However, the miniaturization of an autonomous system and its adaptation are based on AI investigations carried out for other autonomous vehicles.
The Bicycle That Follows Its Owner
The Chinese research, whose results have been published in Nature, proposes that this bicycle can be used to follow its owner, for example, while running. At any moment he can go where his owner goes – if for some reason he does not want to go over.
The bicycle also obeys voice commands, to make it turn or to command to accelerate the march. Thanks to its sensors you can recognize the environment and avoid obstacles alone.
For all this, it has a chip optimized for artificial intelligence. The goal is for future autonomous bicycles to incorporate a system that occupies the minimum space and weight to operate on their own.
The next step that researchers spot goes beyond the bikes. The capabilities demonstrated here can be used to create different types of autonomous robots, with tasks such as cleaning garbage or distributing food.