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eXtremely Unnatural Auto-Navigation (Xuan), a self-riding bicycle

Self-driving cars, get ready to share the road with self-riding bikes.

What’s new: Beijing-based machine learning researcher Zhihui Peng built a riderless bike that stays upright, navigates, and avoids collisions, Synced Review reported. You can watch Peng’s video presentation here.

How he did it: Zhihui calls his design eXtremely Unnatural Auto-Navigation (Xuan).

  • The bike’s sensors include a depth-sensing camera, lidar, and accelerometer. Battery-powered motors keep it rolling, turn the handlebars, and spin a gyroscope that maintains its balance.
  • Obstacle avoidance, path planning, and object following models run on a Huawei Ascend 310 processor mounted behind the seat. Zhihui developed them using Huawei’s Ascend software stack and used Robotic Operating System to control communications between the bike’s subsystems.
  • The bike steered itself through several tests. It remained balanced even when it hit another object and when Zhihui put a bag on its handlebars.

Behind the news: Zhihui was inspired by a 2016 April Fool’s Day prank played by Google. In a video that announced “Google’s Self-Driving Bike,” the company made it appear as though a two-wheeler had driven itself through the streets of Amsterdam.

Why it matters: Self-driving bikes aren’t necessarily a joke. A self-driving motorcycle helped to attract attention to the 2004 Darpa Grand Challenge, which kick-started the current self-driving movement. Zhihui’s contraption is a DIY project, but it may prefigure summonable e-bikes, autonomous food deliveries, or steering control for long-distance cyclists who need a break from the handlebars.

We’re thinking: We look forward to the self-pedaling unicycle.


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