Can a Robot Ride a Bike?

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Can a Robot Ride a Bike?

September 29, 2015

Do you know how to ride a bike? It looks hard if you’ve never done it: how do people keep from tipping over? But once you learn you never forget how to ride one. Somehow we do keep ourselves from tipping over — and now there’s a robot who can do the same trick. As we see in this video, the remote-controlled robot Primer V2 pushes the pedals just like people do to turn them, and steers the handlebars to keep from falling to either side. It even drags his toe to stop. The “roboticist” who built it, Masahiko Yamaguchi, says it’s the first robot that rides just like a human. Primer can ride at up to 6 miles an hour…let’s see if you can keep up with it!

Wee ones: If you ride 8 feet on your bike and Primer rides 5 feet, who rode further?

Little kids: If Primer tips to the right, then to the right again, then to the left, then starts the pattern again tipping to the right…which way does the robot tip on the 10th tip?  Bonus: If Primer can ride at 6 miles per hour and you can ride twice as fast, how fast are you?

Big kids: If Primer was able to ride 4 feet without falling over on his first try, then doubled his distance with each new try, how far did he ride in total by the end of the 3rd try?  Bonus: Primer moves his legs pretty fast to pedal. If he pedals all the way around twice every second, how many times does he pedal in a minute? (Reminder: a minute has 60 seconds.)

The sky’s the limit: If Primer rides in a circle at 6 miles an hour and you ride at 10 miles an hour, and you both start at the same point, after how many times around will you pass Primer at the starting point again?




Wee ones: You rode further!

Little kids: To the right.  Bonus: 12 miles an hour.

Big kids: 28 feet.  Bonus: 120 times.

The sky’s the limit: At the end of your 5th trip around. Your speed is 10/6ths of Primer’s speed, but that’s the same as 5/3, so you don’t have to wait till your 10th cycle to meet up at the start.

And thanks to Bedtime Math fan Marc R. for this fun topic!

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking before she could walk, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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