Thinking Your Way Uphill

New technology is exciting, usually. It is also good to see some big corporations encouraging the small guys out there rather than gobbling them up like piranhas in the amazon. Toyota, famous for their engineering process outlined in their book The Toyota Way, are running a series of Toyota Prius Projects. Prius Project number 11 is all about the concept bike (1).

Putting aside the idea that the Prius will become very expensive to run if gas prices keep escalating and that Toyota might be thinking about moving into bikes, the part of this project that caught my attention was the effort from Deeplocal of Pittsburgh.

The innovation here was to get rid of that business of having to change gear by fiddling with levers or twistgrips. The first step was to set up the gear change by radio control (2). The controller was your smartphone (or your competitors if they’ve hacked your phone.) Coming to a hill and fumbling for your phone, then swiping and thumbing it doesn’t sound easy, but it’s certainly an unusual idea.

Before I seem to be knocking it, let me rush to say I’m open minded and recognize a steppingstone in the route forward when I see it. The next step that they took was closer to my heart. It was to put the whole thing in the helmet and then we’re back to the computer brain interface (CBI) that I’ve posted about recently. The CBI is being actively used to control things like wheelchairs.

Now we can have a truly hands-free riding experience! I can see a much brighter future here, though, than just changing gear with your arms folded.

Picture your real Prius concept bike with an electric motor as well as pedals. Its speed and gearing are controlled by your thoughts and as you go down hill and pedal, the battery is charged. So gravity and pedals do the equivalent job to that of gas in the Prius.


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