02 May 2017

An Intelligent Bike Trailer?

Most hardcore cyclists I've encountered sneer at electric bicycles, a.k.a. "e-bikes".  I admit that I did, too, when I first saw them.  Now, even though I'm not inclined to get one for myself, I more or less accept the fact that people ride them.  As long as their riders don't do anything stupid or careless around me, I don't worry.

I also must say that I've ridden with a trailer only a couple of times in my life.  As long as I am living in a New York City apartment, I probably never will own one.  I might, however,  consider buying one if I ever move to a place where everything I need isn't within a few minutes' bike ride and there is little or no public transportation.  If I were going to live car-free (or keep my driving to a minimum) in such an environment, I might need a trailer of some sort.

I'd like to think that I still wouldn't succumb and buy an "e-bike".  However, an electric trailer might be a good idea for really heavy loads.  In particular, one that exists only as a prototype, at least for now, looks interesting.

The "intelligent bicycle trailer" , created by Hamburg-based startup Nuwiel, attaches to a bicycle in much the same way as a kiddie trailer. So, it would be relatively easy to remove or install. 

What makes it "intelligent"?  Well, it has sensors in the attachment bar that measure the movement of the bike.  (By movement, I wonder whether they mean simply speed or the way the bike is traveling, e.g., into the wind.)  That information is transmitted to the trailer, which adds force as needed, up to a top speed of 25KPH (15.5 MPH).  A regenerative braking feature allows the trailer to slow the bike while partially recharging the batteries, which are said to have an average range of 50KM (31miles) per charge.

Nuwiel also says that when the trailer is not attached to the bike, it can be used as a motorized hand cart.  This could be useful for errands done on foot--say, to a store around the corner from where you live. 

The trailer, according to the company, will be available to courier and transport companies this Fall, and to consumers by 2019.  No price has been set.  Nuwiel seems to be pitching as a "last mile" delivery option and a carbon emission-free form of transport.

If nothing else, I am curious to see, and possibly try out the Nuwiel trailer. 

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