Friday, February 24, 2012

Wireless Bicycle Brakes? Yup

wireless bicycle brake
Holger Hermanns, computer science professor at Saarland University, confirmed the reliability of his wireless bicycle brake through mathematical calculations. (photo by Angelika Klein)

from Saarland University

Seems a little silly right? To replace a simple cable with electronics which can fail just as easily?

Although the wireless braking system has been created for a bicycle, the idea is to apply the technology to much larger systems, such as trains and airplanes. Professor Holger Hermanns of Saarland University, Homberg, Germany, has developed the technology, and has chosen a safer transportation method, bicycles, to test his prototypes.

On a bicycle, to brake with the wireless brake, a cyclist needs only clench the rubber grip on the right handle. The more tightly the grip is clenched, the harder the disk brake on the front wheel works. It seems as if a ghost hand is in play, but a combination of several electronic components enables the braking. Integrated in the rubber grip is a pressure sensor, which activates a sender if a specified pressure threshold is crossed. The sender is integrated in a blue plastic box which is the size of a cigarette packet and is attached to the handlebar. Its radio signals are sent to a receiver attached at the end of the bicycle's fork. The receiver forwards the signal to an actuator, transforming the radio signal into the mechanical power by which the disk brake is activated. The electrical energy is supplied by a battery, which is also attached to the bicycle's fork. To enhance reliability, there are additional senders attached to the bicycle. These repeatedly send the same signal.

Its current configuration enables the cruiser bike to brake within 250 milliseconds. This means that at a speed of 30 kilometers per hour, the cyclist has to react two meters before reaching the dangerous situation. But the Saarland University computer scientists are not satisfied with just this functionality. "It is not difficult to integrate an anti-lock braking system and traction control. That takes only a few adjustments," Hermanns explains.

So, you probably shouldn't look for this at your local bike shop, but it's an interesting concept.

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