The Baidu Maps navigation system is built into a display on the handlebars to give bikers a visual readout of where to turn during a ride.
The bike's smarts also contain social networking features. "It will locate other people using our DuBike operating system so you can meet up with other people and share good routes with other people. You'll be able to see other people using DuBike on your map if you want to find other riders," said Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo.
The bike doesn't need charging, either. "You've got a power drum that converts your kinetic energy to charge the electric system," Kuo said. "The electrical system is powered when you pedal."
In case anyone else tries to abscond with the DuBike, there's an anti-theft system in the form of a built-in GPS so owners can locate their bike using their smartphones. Baidu's Institute for Deep Learning research group developed the smart bike prototype, along with China's Tsinghua University's Academy of Arts & Design.
The product is "more about the software ... rather than the actual hardware," said Kuo. "We're making the operating system open and available to all different bicycle manufacturers. The idea is that bicycle manufacturers can take this, get the specs on how to make the sensors talk to each other, how to make the operating system talk to your phone and put that all into a bicycle. The idea is that smart bikes become a part of your life."
Kuo said there's been "considerable interest" from bike manufacturers in the system. The company would only say the first prototypes are scheduled for release soon and has not given a price for the smart bikes. Baidu also declined to say how many will be initally be produced or name the company that manufacturing them.
The release of the prototype will happen only in China, said Kuo, who added: "there's no reason necessarily we would leave it only in China. We don't have maps for cities and countries outside of China yet, so that's a limiting factor - for now, at least."
Baidu´s prototype smartbike
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