Electric Bike Research

In today’s society, those who do not take advantage of public transportation services typically drive personal vehicles to school, work, and other locations of interest. Due to the required amount of physical exertion, walking or riding a bike is often avoided. This is concerning given that a large percentage of carbon and hazardous emissions emanate from motor vehicles. This creates a need for an alternative means of travel for shorter commutes with electric bikes (e-bikes) one potential solution. E-bikes are becoming increasingly popular in urban areas because of their environmental benefits and ability to improve rider health. However, safety concerns are precluding most people from adopting cycling as a primary means of transportation. This is understandable considering that in the US, there were 818 cyclist fatalities and 45,000 cyclist injuries from motor vehicle-related accidents in 2015. This can result in a significant cost to the economy with the total economic expense of bicyclist fatalities and injuries reaching over $6 billion in 2012. In this area, e-bikes have an even greater potential for safety issues since they are faster, heavier, and quieter. As a result, given the relative unknown impact of e-bikes on rider safety, this effort will provide quantitative and qualitative data on the influence of e-bikes in a relatively congested transportation environment. This will help improve the safety of cyclists by facilitating a better understanding of their interactions with pedestrians, other bicyclists, and motorists. Moreover, the use of the e-bike platform provides a tremendous opportunity to analyze a low-cost LIDAR-based system in a mobile application that can move with the flow of traffic, subsequently improving safety for surveyors. As a result, the system can deliver information suited for Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) reports like pavement quality monitoring.


Publications Generated
In the following publications, the investigator has worked with his students on the design and construction of two e-bikes with one based on biomechanical considerations. The second publication provides the first steps at developing a low cost Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system for e-bikes and other engineering needs. Current research includes fabrication of a second-generation LIDAR system while endeavoring to keep the cost at a minimum.
Riding the E-bike
As illustrated in the movie that follows, the second e-bike developed is a rear-wheel drive version with an in-hub electric motor. The rider has the ability to either pedal normally or use the e-bike for traction assist. Given the respectively low weight of the e-bike, regenerative braking is not included since it does not provide a substantial benefit in battery pack life for the added cost.

Acknowledgements

The research described in this paper is funded, in part, by the Mid-America Transportation Center via a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers Program, and this support is gratefully acknowledged. The contents reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the information presented herein, and are not necessarily representative of the sponsoring agencies.