Above: early testing is underway in the US
The Covid pandemic has brought misery to so many, but it has also stimulated a wave of innovation and technical creativity. With cycling becoming the transportation of choice for millions more people in the last year, it came as no surprise when we learnt about potentially the biggest breakthrough yet.
As a valued part of the cycling community, we've been contacted by the newly-appointed Tsar for Artificial Intelligence for Active Travel.
Dame Flora Spilo is looking for volunteers to test the Self-Cycling Arterial Mobility project, an ambitious undertaking that will allow cyclists to benefit from the same convenience that self-driving cars are already beginning to offer.
What does this mean in practice, you ask?
Local councils are investing millions into overhauling their networks of cycle lanes to allow cyclists to be navigated as they ride. Within these smart cycle lanes, all you will need to do is pedal.
Prepare to see more of these symbols coming to bike lanes
New functionality within Garmin devices and equivalents will allow urban riders to set a route before getting on their bikes. A simple upgrade to disc braking systems will allow for automatic braking.
A number of cycle hire schemes in major global capitals, including London's Santander Cycles, have stated that they intend to adapt their fleet to be used on similar networks.
The net result?
By removing the need to control steering and braking whilst riding within the network, cyclists will be able to get on with their busy day rather than having to concentrate on cycling details.
New technology will minimise the need to stop at junctions
Prepare to arrive at work and hop off your bike having already gone through that morning's email inbox, or possibly caught up on the latest episode of Line of Duty. But you'll still have got your cardiovascular exercise done for the day and worked up a bit of a sweat.
What's not to like, we say!
If you're interested in volunteering to take part in Dame Flora's preliminary tests, contact us here, entitling your email 'Self-Cycle Tests'. You'll need:
- To live in one of London, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Edinburgh or Manchester.
- To be an experienced cyclist, with the ability to ride without hands for more than 50m.
- To be available to ride the specially adapted bike that you will be lent for a minimum of 2 hours a week, starting later in April.