A start-up creating smart trailers for pedal bikes is hoping to change the way goods are delivered

Key Points
  • The way we move around our towns and cities is undergoing a transformation.
  • French start-up K-Ryole wants to change the way that goods are moved by using electric trailers that can be attached to bikes. 
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A start-up is creating smart trailers for pedal bikes

From ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to hydrogen-fueled buses and electric cars, the way we move around our towns and cities is undergoing a transformation.

In Paris, a start-up called K-Ryole wants to change the way that goods are transported by using self-propelled electric trailers that can be attached to bicycles.

"It's very different from the conventional trailer because we have two motors on the wheel and a sensor on the tow bar of the trailer," Gilles Vallier, the company's chief financial officer and co-founder, told CNBC's "Sustainable Energy."

Vallier explained that "embedded intelligence" had been developed to make users of the K-Ryole feel as if nothing is behind them when towing their trailer, even if they are carrying a load of 250 kilograms.

The load sensor is crucial to the K-Ryole system. "When you move your bike, you accelerate, the load sensor measures that you want to accelerate, so the K-Ryole accelerates its motor," Nicolas Duvaut, CEO and co-founder of K-Ryole, said.

"When you brake, the road sensor feels the compression and it asks the motor to brake," he added.

Looking to the future, the idea is for the K-Ryole system to help users transport and deliver everything from groceries to heavier goods using just their pedal bike.

The impact on day-to-day life could also be significant. "Each year in Europe 5 billion … parcels are delivered in our cities and this volume is constantly increasing and it causes many issues," Vallier said.

"We have the issue of congestion, the issue of parking for a lot of utility vehicles that deliver these parcels," he explained, adding that noise pollution was another issue. "That's why we developed our trailer… to deliver all of these parcels without any nuisance for the neighborhood."

Looking at the bigger picture, the way in which goods and services are delivered could change dramatically in the not too distant future.

"I think we're going to see improvements in logistics to enable … more grouped distribution of things to people's neighborhoods," Boyd Cohen from the EADA Business School in Barcelona told CNBC.

The types of transport used to deliver goods could also change. "We're looking at drones as a possibility, although that of course raises questions," Cohen said.

"Do we want drones in our cities? And we will certainly see more sustainable vehicles being driven to people's homes, so electric vehicles, electric buses, electric scooters. That will also improve the sustainability of last mile logistics."