Cannes Lions

The Riderless Bike


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Every year, The Steve Waugh Foundation runs an event called “The Captain’s Ride”, where 60 volunteers ride 700km from Bowral to Mount Koziosko in rural New South Wales, Australia. It aims to raise money and awareness for Children who suffer from Rare Diseases. This year, the charity wanted to find a way to bring the children closer to the event. For most of the children making the journey to the riders is not possible. So we decided to build an autonomous children’s bicycle which could ride with the riders. It’s a breakthrough innovation that generated a lot of attention and media prior to the event. It acted as a vehicle for the children to ride along side their heroes (via a live streaming 360 camera) and it was a constant reminder to the volunteers on the ride, of why they were there.


A Pixy Infrared Camera connected to a Raspberry Pi is monitoring the road in front, looking for a custom built Infrared tracking beacon. The beacon has been placed on the last rider in the bike ride. Once it sees the beacon, it locks on and calculates the speed and distance, interpolating that information so that it can control the steering, braking and acceleration mechanisms. The 1000w in hub motor was custom built, as was the Lithium ion battery cells, which were built seamlessly in to the frame. The braking system was built on a dual redundant Arduino system, with an emergency shutoff connected to the flag on the rear of the bike (pull the flag to apply brakes and cut power to the motor) and was also completely operable via a remote control, up to 150m from the bicycle. It ran under complete supervision the entire time.


The bike ride raised a record $850,000 for the charity, largely due to the attention and media generated from the Riderless bike press coverage leading up to the ride. The bicycle will now tour every year for the charity with the hope to continue to raise awareness for the charity. The practicalities of a commercial option are limited, as there is not a huge demand for unmanned children's bicycles. However, that was never the intention of this campaign. It is an innovation with a real purpose, built to a budget and specification for which it succeeded on all fronts.

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