Steve Waugh Foundation

The Riderless Bike

Steve Waugh Foundation

The Riderless Bike


We set out to bring kids with rare illnesses along on a 100km long bike ride.

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Children with rare illness seldom have the opportunity to experience life beyond their day-to-day routines – we had an aim to include these incredible children in the event that was designed to benefit them. It was a no brainer of a project – an incredible premise brought to life by imagination. 

The Captain’s Ride is a challenging charity cycling event for the Steve Waugh Foundation, raising funds for the 400,000 children throughout Australia affected by rare diseases. Sporting legend Steve Waugh would lead a group of 70 riders on an enormous six-day 701km event from Mittagong to the peak of Mt Kosciuszko. However, the children he supports are unable to participate. Havas engaged us to develop, build and manage a world-first ‘Riderless Bike’ that allowed them to feel part of the ride. This was a highly rewarding ask. 

And thus, the riderless bike was born. Originally the concept was a full sized bike that could steer itself and self right. As we developed the physics and engineering, we had to keep lowering the centre of mass to make it stable at speed, and introduce some form of training wheels to keep it upright when slow. We finally got to the point where we realised it was basically a kid's bike, so we embraced it. Now the technical difficulty sat in how to fit a full autonomous vehicle's worth of electronics, 360 degree live streaming 4G camera, batteries and sensors into a tiny kid's bike. It was a challenge that took endless long days of collaboration and forward thinking to solve – but it was a challenge that we relished. 

So we took it on road. After many early mornings, way too many live-streamed crashes, and a visit to the Governor General's house - we had it all. The children loved it, and the riders adopted it as a mascot - representing the children that they were riding for. 

Ultimately this raised more than a million dollars, and created 198 million media impressions. With one of our first projects of scale, we were on the map. And even more importantly, we were on the map for work that was actually positively influencing and contributing the world around us.