Sparky Automotive thinks riderless bicycles should be a thing

Sparky says its autonomous e-bike will be good for deliveries.

Note to UK-based Sparky Automotive: if you're going to switch your product emphasis, you should probably make it clearer on your Facebook page. The London-based company is looking to crowd-fund to raise money for its autonomous electric bike, Green Car Congress says. The startup had previously targeted a battery-electric hatchback as its prototype. But, as we all know, two wheels are cheaper than four.

The company, which is headed by graduates of London's Brunel University, is pitching the idea of an autonomous electric bike. And while the morbid among us may be reminded of a riderless horse that sometimes accompanies a funeral procession, the idea behind the concept is actually quite a bit sunnier. Sparky says that a riderless electric bike can be used to deliver small packages throughout urban and super-congested areas like, say, London. Thanks to gyroscope technology similar to that used by Segway and a contraption with handle-bar-mounted cameras, the empty bikes should stay upright during their appointed rounds. We do have to wonder what the plan is when the bikes inevitably fall over, though.

There's not much else out there about the riderless e-bike concept because Sparky was initially focused on a different concept: a three-door electric hatchback that the company said would be able to go as far as 160 miles on a full charge.

Oddly, the idea of an autonomous electric bike has gained some traction on this side of the Pond as well. In January, something called a Persuasive Electric Vehicle was unveiled at the DENSO booth at the CES conference. That concept was designed at MIT and would theoretically "move itself" to urban areas where demand is the highest i.e., either for deliveries or to people who need to travel short distances. Like Sparky's e-bike, no specs were released about how far it could go on a single charge.

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