I was asked this in a phone interview for a robotics job. Googling has not really helped. I assume it is some sort of state prediction model that can be used in a Kalman filter.

Can anyone give me a formal description? A link to a reference would also be nice.

EDIT to clarify, the interview was for a self-driving car company and before the question we had been discussing Kalman filters, Particle filters, and path planning algorithms (A*).

  • $\begingroup$ Are you referring to Bike Riding Robot? $\endgroup$
    – CroCo
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ No. The job interview was for a self-driving car company and we had been discussing path planning algorithms, Kalman filters, and Particle filters when he asked the question. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 22:48

2 Answers 2


The bicycle model is a simplified model of vehicle dynamics. It's really common so I'm not sure why a web search did not get any results for you.

A random paper, first one in my search that had a diagram and was not behind a paywall...

Modification of Vehicle Handling Characteristics via Steer-by-Wire By Paul Yih, Jihan Ryu, and J. Christian Gerdes.

  • $\begingroup$ Isn't the simplified model of a vehicle known as cruise model? $\endgroup$
    – CroCo
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ Sure. One of many. $\endgroup$
    – hauptmech
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! Maybe I was using bad keywords but my searches kept on bringing up results related to modelling bicycles. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 2:57

"The" bicycle model? No idea. But "a" bicycle model is something that's a great jumping point for tons of interesting topics though...

  • holonomics
  • closed-loop systems / feedback models
  • torque calculations
  • gyroscopic stabilization
  • general stability / lyapunov theory

Terrible question for a phone interview!

Bicycle Dynamics and Control by K. J. Åström

This PDF discusses most of those issues.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would not say off hand that this is a bad phone interview question. It depends on the type of robotics job and on what the hiring manager was going after. Perhaps the question was phrased to see if you know how to say "I don't know," rather than making something up to sound smart. Perhaps they wanted to see if you could think on your feet. Or if you know Hamiltonian dynamics or nonholonomic system control. Interviewing isn't just about what the candidate knows, but also who the candidate is. $\endgroup$
    – SteveO
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 16:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SteveO I did answer I don't know. The thing is I kind of remember seeing something called a bicycle model somewhere used as a state prediction model for a Kalman filter but I can't seem to find anything when I google it. I had been talking about Sebastian Thrun's book and Udacity course and he told me that the model is used extensively in his Udacity course. I can't find anything with that specific name in the course either. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Hadi see page 11 citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/… :) $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 21:07

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