e-bike

“You’ll never ride alone,” might become the tagline associated with a new e-bike from Urtopia that incorporates AI as a chatty companion for cycling excursions, offering everything from route guidance to training tips to commentary on the passing scenery.

The AI capability is crafted into the Urtopia’s Fusion e-bike, turning the two-wheeler into a bicycle with a mind, says the company.  Urtopia says to think of it as a Jarvis-style intelligent assistant, invoking the fictional AI created by Tony Stark in the Ironman film series.

The bicycle uses ChatGPT to communicate with the rider, aiming to transform a ride into a biking experience with dynamic dialogue. The interaction doesn’t require the use of a smartphone—communication is done directly via two noise-canceling microphones and Jarvis responds via a built-in speaker. The AI system includes an embedded eSIM card for connectivity, and OTA updates can be sent as needed. Two additional features provide security: One is a fingerprint unlock procedure, while the other relies on GPS for location tracking and virtual fence settings.

Communicating with the AI is relatively straightforward. A key bit of tech is a smart ring that activates the AI. The smart ring is more than a ring lock, however, as it collects data such as heart rate, previous exercise and sleep patterns so the AI can adopt a coaching role to recommend a personalized workout routine. The system is center-mounted on the handlebars with a small, LED dot display for visual prompts like directional arrows that supplement voice prompts. The bicycle includes a voice-controlled headlamp as well as an under the seat rear-positioning light that includes a projection system that works as turn indicator. That deep step-through V profile also makes the bicycle an eye-catcher. The AI system formally debuts at CES in January, 2024 so pricing info will likely be disclosed then. You can be sure the talk won’t be cheap.

It’s a safe bet that AI will become an integral part of the e-bike scene moving forward as the batteries offer a convenient onboard power source.  A French company called Éclair is developing an “Ai-Augmented” e-bike, for example. It also remains to be seen how these AI systems may impact overall performance characteristics like battery life and range.

Meanwhile, bicycle accessory makers are excited about the potential of using AI to create more shock resistant helmets, for example, using metamaterial, a substance that has previously required time-consuming trial-and-error approaches, thanks to studies done by research academics at ETH Zurich.