The patent discloses Ford’s endeavors to install regenerative braking system in its bicycle Regenerative braking is a popular mechanism in electric vehicles and hybrid cars where when a driver applies brakes, the energy going to get wasted is utilized for electricity generation which is then used for cruising.
Ford, as per the patent, may not use the electricity generated to cruise the bike — it defeats the purpose of riding a bicycle. The electricity generation, however, will be used to power various electronic devices installed in its high tech bike Mode.
I’ll let you know which equipment you will find on this bike in the later section of this post. Let’s first have a look at what does the patent disclose.
When Ford’s MoDe Flex will consider electricity generation?
The patent discloses that there is going to be a smart switch which connects charging circuit to the battery. The function of the smart switch is to detect instances where electricity generation makes sense.
The smart switch of the bike will take various criteria, for detection purpose, in the account. It considers the speed of a bicycle, paddle per minute, the correlation between speed and paddle per minute, odometer reading, and the like for the purpose.
How a MoDe is cruising is considered as well. If a bike is moving at high speed but paddle per minutes is low, it concludes that rider is moving downhill. On this finding, the switch closes the circuit and a battery installed in bike starts getting charged.
On the other hand, when paddle per minutes would be high but speed would be low, electricity generation won’t be considered as a rider could be moving uphill.
As regenerative braking is going to be one of the features, the switch, hence, will be capable of detecting braking operations as well. Below are other events where the switch closes the circuit to recharge batteries:
- When you connect a new device, for example, a music player, to your bike when your bike is already running out of battery
- When battery is already low
- When a rider manually instruct switch to allow power generation
What are some other advanced features of Ford MoDe Flex Ebike?
The MoDe Flex eBike, as the name goes is really flexible. It’s sturdy and lightweight at the same time which can be folded as well.
The bike is engineered by the Ford Smart Mobility, a subsidiary of Ford. Sudipto Aich, Director of Technology and Engineering at Ford Smart Mobility, is one of the inventors of the patent. The subsidiary was started to set Ford as a market leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics.
— Ford Motor Company (@Ford) June 24, 2015
The MoDe Flex ebike gets paired with a rider’s smartphone to help him in navigation, in tracking fitness goals and seeing a forecast and other information.
It’s laden with many advanced features like no sweat mode. The “No Sweat Mode” monitors a rider’s heart rate and assists in paddling so that not a single drop of sweat could fall from his/her body.
Further, there are other smart sensors installed on the bike to give a rider greater situational awareness. For example, the handlebars, when a vehicle is about to overtake, vibrates to alert a rider. Furthermore, advanced LEDs are integrated into the bike for night riders.
The world is slowly shifting to greener energy. We now are focusing on electricity from solar and wind energy than energy generated from coal. Electric cars have started replacing vehicles with internal combustion engines that run on fossil fuels.
If we want to save the planet, of course, we have to find new and better way to commute and Ford’s MoDe-Flex is a step in the same direction. The patent reveals how the company is focusing on green energy rather than simply relying on other energy means to supply power to its equipment.
The environment-friendly feature of this bike has gone muted if Ford would not be coming up with a patent like this. Recharging MoDe Flex battery using electricity generated from fossil fuels would have diluted the advantage, for sure.
About Author: Nitin Balodi works at GreyB Research, a patent search and analytics firm, which combines machine and human intelligence to derive hidden technological and business insights that are rather difficult to find.