Fact Check

Google's Self-Driving Bike

A Google April Fools' Day video showing a "self-driving bicycle" continues to confuse viewers long after the event.

Published Apr 30, 2016

A video shows a 'self-driving bicycle' created by Google.

On 31 March 2016, the Google Netherlands YouTube channel shared a video purportedly demonstrating Google's development of a "self-driving bike":

This spring, Google is introducing the self-driving bicycle in Amsterdam, the world’s premier cycling city. The Dutch cycle more than any other nation in the world, almost 900 kilometres per year per person, amounting to over 15 billion kilometres annually. The self-driving bicycle enables safe navigation through the city for Amsterdam residents, and furthers Google’s ambition to improve urban mobility with technology. Google Netherlands takes enormous pride in the fact that a Dutch team worked on this innovation that will have great impact in their home country.

While many viewers encountered this video on the Google Netherlands channel on April Fools' Day (and thus understood that it was spoof of the Google Self-Driving Car Project), this short film reached a wider audience when it was posted (outside its original context) a few days later to the Calimero Facebook page. The Calimero version of the video has been viewed over 5 million times since then (nearly three million times more than the original video on Google Netherlands), on a site that makes no mention of an April Fools' Day joke.

Although Google Netherlands likewise made no specific reference to April Fools' Day when they originally posted the video, they did include a link to a "making of" video that showed the "self-driving" bicycle concept to be a hoax:

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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