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Video: The ancestor of the modern bike goes electric for its 200th birthday

It’s a dandy horse with a motor

On June 12, 1817, German inventor Karl Drais tested out his laufmaschine, a wooden bike without pedals that came to be known as a dandy horse. In honour of this event, computer scientists at Saarland University have built an electric version called the Draisine 200.0.

The dandy horse basically works like a balance bike and EurekAlert reports that when the Draisine 200.0 rider pushes off, the motor starts and provides additional power for the ride. Braking is via a sort of foot pedal on the wooden front wheel.

The bike features a 200W electric motor which is connected to a computer on the frame.

Professor of computer science, Holger Hermanns, explained that one of the difficulties is programming when that motor is triggered as the team wants this to be automatic. The ultimate aim is to improve the safety of e-bike software.

"With conventional electric bikes, the motor turns on when the pedals move, but the dandy horse does not have these,” he said. "Imagine that you jump over a kerb, the sensors interpret this as pushing and the electric motor speeds up to its 25 km/h top speed."

It has been a battle, but the third prototype is said to no longer be affected by strong vibrations.

"We will now verify the correctness of the software, i.e., mathematically prove that the motor will not run faster than the allowed top speed and the battery will not be overloaded."

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