Physical Human-Bicycle Interfaces for Robotic Balance Assistance
Riding a bicycle requires accurately performing several tasks, such as balancing and navigation, which may be difficult or even impossible for persons with disabilities. These difficulties may be partly alleviated by providing active balance and steering assistance to the rider. In order to provide this assistance while maintaining free maneuverability, it is necessary to measure the position of the rider on the bicycle and to understand the rider's intent. Applying autonomy to bicycles also has the potential to address some of the challenges posed by traditional automobiles, including CO2 emissions, land use for roads and parking, pedestrian safety, high ownership cost, and difficulty traversing narrow or partially obstructed paths.
The Smart Bike research platform provides a set of sensors and actuators designed to aid in understanding human-bicycle interaction and to provide active balance control to the bicycle. The platform consists of two specially outfitted bicycles, one with force and inertial measurement sensors and the other with robotic steering and a control moment gyroscope, along with the associated software for collecting useful data and running controlled experiments. Each bicycle operates as a self-contained embedded system, which can be used for untethered field testing or can be linked to a remote user interface for real-time monitoring and configuration. Testing with both systems reveals promising capability for applications in human-bicycle interaction and robotics research.