Thirty years ago today I met with Malcolm Bricklin and Lee Iacocca. Lee was the chairman of Chrysler and had just retired.
I used to write for Dr. Dobbs Journal and Byte Magazine and this is how they found me. I don’t write anymore and it’s not in my skillset really, I just liked doing it back then. Byte is still around I think.
Malcolm had started an electric vehicle company (named EVC) with Lee. I was in awe of both men because I’m a car guy and I knew their history as both were famous car people. They were looking for an engineer to help them, so they contracted me to build an electric bicycle which would have a pedal torque sensing power assist.
I started the project and could not get it to work well. After reading at the library on alternate control strategies, I stumbled upon Fuzzy Logic in a paper by Lotfi A. Zadeh, a professor at UC Berkeley. I decided to write the software for the Bike using Fuzzy Logic (which is a branch of AI) and got it to work really well.
The bike I built is one of the very first ebikes, which are really popular at the moment. Here’s the picture of myself and my son with the EVC ebike. This was late 1993. The follow up article appeared in Dr. Dobbs Journal a popular technical journal back in the day.
I was probably the first person to use AI in an EV. Also the first to use early Lithium Ion batteries in an EV which Lee got from Sony as prototypes.
The system had full regen and a top speed of 20 mph. EVC is still around making bikes. Malcolm is still alive. Lee passed in 2019.