Bluetooth-enabled bicycle has automatic gearbox

Nov 12, 2012 by Nancy Owano weblog

(—Oh, no. Not another reason to count your smartphone blessings? To feel so lucky to have a phone loaded with accelerometer and GPS? Oh, yes. Engineers at UK-based Cambridge Consultants have developed electronic automatic gear shifting for bikes, in a system that relies on smartphones. The company has been working on a wireless automatic gearbox that does the gear-changing, not the rider. The system is controlled by an app on a handlebar-mounted iPhone, Also part of the system is a Shimano Di2 electronic gear-shifting system for road bicycles, wheel rotation sensors that reveal road speed, and a pedaling (cadence) sensor. This prototype is not yet in the shops, and has no estimated pricetag, but its creators would be interested in business partners.

In such an electronic gear-shifting system, the idea is for the rider to shift with electronic switches rather than manual control levers. An advantage to an is that it enables fast gear-switching. The system is Bluetooth-enabled so that in manual mode the bike can "talk" to the , which can analyze cycling performance. When in automatic mode, a main crank's relays how fast you are pedaling (cadence) to the phone app and the wheel sensor tells it your road speed. The correct gear is computed and beamed to the Shimano mechanism. That is how the phone is put to use to calculate the best gear to be in for the rider's pedaling speed, and then shifts up or down. The phone's can tell when to change down in an emergency stop and the phone's GPS can be used to get the bike into the correct gear for an upcoming incline.

The system was developed by Mark Wilson and his team at Cambridge Consultants. He said the company's tester told them that he never feels like he is in the wrong gear.

According to New Scientist, you can find mechanical automatic gear boxes, but there is a disadvantage of wearing out quickly, as they are based on moving flywheels. The engineers' wireless method activates an electric gearshift that has no such issues. The report also noted that electric gear shifts made by firms such as Shimano are normally connected by cable to a lithium battery and gear switches on the handlebars.

Addressing the question about interference compromising a gear change, a Cambridge Consultants team member said in Gizmag,"The frequency hopping mechanism of the Bluetooth radio also ensures that many hundreds of cyclists could operate within a very small space without interference compromising the gear change."

Explore further: Bringing history and the future to life with augmented reality

Related Stories

The auto change bicycle

Jan 13, 2009

Researchers in Taiwan are designing a computer for pedal cyclists that tells them when to change gear to optimize the power they develop while maintaining comfort. The system is described in the latest issue of the International Jo ...

An 'electric' future for Formula 1 gearboxes?

Oct 03, 2008

Bristol University student, Niall Oswald, has won the e2v Award for the Best Electronic Engineering Student at the 2008 Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Awards for his final-year research project, ...

Scientists invent 1.2nm molecular gear

Jun 15, 2009

Scientists from A*STAR's Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), led by Professor Christian Joachim, have scored a breakthrough in nanotechnology by becoming the first in the world to invent a molecular gear ...

Recommended for you

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

Apr 16, 2014

( —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Neuroscientist's idea wins new-toy award

Apr 15, 2014

When he was a child, Robijanto Soetedjo used to play with his electrically powered toys for a while and then, when he got bored, take them apart - much to the consternation of his parents.

Land Rover demos invisible bonnet / car hood (w/ video)

Apr 14, 2014

( —Land Rover has released a video demonstrating a part of its Discover Vision Concept—the invisible "bonnet" or as it's known in the U.S. the "hood" of the car. It's a concept the automaker ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.