WHat the invention would do
Commuters have navigated large urban areas without the need for personal vehicles by pairing public transport with additional means of transportation, such as bikes. However, integrating a bike onto public transport has not been a straightforward task, especially on crowded transport. Current methods to address this problem are limited to installing bike racks onto the front of the bus or allowing passengers to maneuver their bikes onto the buses, taking valuable space. New advancements in autonomous vehicles have provided a new means to address these limitations.
Autonomous vehicle companies have invested a great interest in public and commercial transportation. Integrating smart technologies into traditional uses opens the door for solving traditional problems that many have embraced as daily nuisances. Autonomous buses require new systems to ensure passengers will still be able to bring their bicycles with them when they commute without the presence of a bus driver. Both of the conventional solutions are insufficient at providing a secure and compact way for commuters to transport their bikes on autonomous public transport.
How to integrate bikes with autonomous buses
This week Ford was issued a patent for an autonomous bus bicycle rack. Unlike conventional bike racks, this system uses a plurality of assignable bicycle slots for users to reserve for their bicycles, ensuring that commuters will be able to continue to store their bicycles on autonomous public transportation. When a bicycle slot has been requested by a user the slot will unlock and detect when a bicycle has been placed into it. Once detected by the system the front wheel of the bicycle will be locked into place on the slot. The bicycle slot will then begin to move vertically, utilizing the rear wheel as a pivot point to enable the bike to be vertically stored during travel. When the user departs the bus they can request their bike be lowered from the rack and returned to them.
autonomous public transit must adapt to succeed
Autonomous vehicles are part of our not too distant future, but there are clearly many additional areas that also require research and innovation to turn autonomous vehicles into a reality. Public transport benefits from following a pre-programmed path, and in some instances, there are even specific bus lanes for them to use making them prime subjects for initially testing autonomous vehicles. However, this means that autonomous buses need to have the same capabilities as manned buses on the roads today. This patent demonstrates how much technology is truly required to bring a new type of product to market.
Written by John DeStefano, Technical Advisor
and Lauren Hawksworth, Marketing Administrator
July 28, 2021