Ford isn't just about cars anymore. Today at Mobile World Congress, the company showed off two new prototype smartbikes as part of its Smart Mobility Plan. Called MoDe, the two bikes would run on a combination of pedal power and pre-charged batteries. They also fold up, letting the rider easily stow the bike in a car or truck or carry it onto a train. Ford envisions the two bikes as part of a broader mobility system that integrates cars, bikes, and various other forms of transportation into a seamless, networked whole.
Ford has been promoting alternate transportation research projects for a while, most notably at its most recent CES keynote, but these prototypes offer a more concrete look at the company's ambitions. Notably, some of the bike's most impressive features rely on connecting to other devices. An integrated iOS navigation app would direct users to the fastest route, potentially a mix of car, bike, and public transit. (The bike also has a built-in charging dock, in case batteries run low.) The most impressive feature is a No Sweat mode, which automatically activates the motor when the rider's heart rate climbs above a certain point, as measured by a bluetooth-connected health tracker.
A Detroit automaker might seem like an unlikely origin for a smartbike, but this isn't the first time Ford has experimented with pedal power. Last month, the company filed a patent for a bike partially constructed from automobile parts, with the bike's two wheels combining to serve as a functional spare tire. Still, both the MoDe bikes and the patent are still prototypes, so it's unlikely you'll see any of them in a dealership any time soon.