BeMap lets you pick the least polluted way to work


This device features GPS for tracking, a lamp for visibility and sensors for measuring pollution along your cycling route.


Most folks typically like commute to work everyday either by car or mass transit. Not only do these vehicles create congestion on the roads, they’re often times costly and not always flexible to one’s schedule. And while cycling is certainly an alternative mode of transportation, many people don’t feel confident riding to work in non-bike-friendly cities. This is something that one team of microengineers have set out to change with their Arduino-based system.

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With hopes of encouraging more people to bike to work and improving everyone’s general well-being, four EPFL students have developed an innovative handlebar device with an air pollution gauge and headlight. The system, called BeMap (Bicycle Environmental Mapping), is capable of measuring CO and NO2 levels in the air and transmitting that data to a computer for environmental mapping. These readings can then be crowdsourced online and mapped to help cyclists choose routes with the lowest level of vehicle exhaust and pollution. During any given bike ride, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pollution readings can be taken and then uploaded in real-time over Bluetooth.

Aside from a CO and NO2 sensor, BeMap is embedded with a temperature and humidty sensor along with an Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4) that handles communication and data collection. What’s more, the gadget is equipped with GPS for tracking the path followed by a cyclist throughout their commute and combining the sensors’ data to points on the map. There’s also an LED light to enhance nighttime visibility and for keeping you up to date on the current pollution levels.

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According to its creators, BeMap is geared towards to specific users: municipalities who could provide the device to users in order to collect specific information about cycling infrastructures’ quality and air pollution, as well as data-loving riders who’d like to analyze their cycling routes. Plus, the students are already in talks with OpenSense — a project designed to measure air quality through mobile monitoring — who has already placed sensors on trams and buses in Zurich and Lausanne, for instance.

“With bicycles, we can go down narrow streets and reach other spots that are off limits to buses. The readings crowdsourced by BeMap will also help cover more ground,” explains Chloe Dickson, a member of the BeMap project team.

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In true Maker spirit, BeMap is entirely open source and all of its documentation and 3D-printable files are available online. Although the project was initially devised as part of the iCan competition, the group is considering marketing a commercial-grade unit, which we wouldn’t be surprised to find on Kickstarter in the near future!

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