Road Safety News
 

New technology will tap driver on the shoulder

Monday 26th January 2015

Jaguar Land Rover is developing a range of new technologies that would use colours, sounds and touch inside the car to alert drivers to potential hazards in a bid to prevent collisions involving bicycles and motorbikes.

Sensors on the car will detect when another road user is approaching and identify it as bicycle or motorbike. Bike Sense will then make the driver aware of the potential hazard before the driver sees it.

But rather than using a generic warning icon or sound, which takes time for the driver's brain to process, Bike Sense uses lights and sounds that, according to Jaguar Land Rover, the driver will instinctively associate with the potential danger.

To help the driver understand where the bike is in relation to their car, the audio system will make it sound as if a bicycle bell or motorbike horn is coming through the speaker nearest the bike, so the driver immediately understands the direction the cyclist is coming from.

If a bicycle or motorbike is coming up the road behind the car, Bike Sense will detect if it is overtaking or coming past the vehicle on the inside, and the top of the car seat will extend to 'tap' the driver on the left or right shoulder. The idea is that the driver will then instinctively look over that shoulder to identify the potential hazard.

As the cyclist gets closer to the car, a matrix of LED lights on the window sills, dashboard and windscreen pillars will glow amber and then red as the bike approaches. The movement of these red and amber lights across these surfaces will also highlight the direction the bike is taking.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, director of research and technology at Jaguar Land Rover, said: "Human beings have developed an instinctive awareness of danger over thousands of years. Certain colours like red and yellow will trigger an immediate response, while everyone recognises the sound of a bicycle bell.

"Bike Sense takes us beyond the current technologies of hazard indicators and icons in wing mirrors, to optimising the location of light, sound and touch to enhance this intuition.

“This creates warnings that allow a faster cognitive reaction as they engage the brain's instinctive responses. If you see the dashboard glowing red in your peripheral vision, you will be drawn to it and understand straight away that another road user is approaching that part of your vehicle."

If a group of cyclists, motorbikes or pedestrians were moving around the car on a busy urban street, the system would intelligently prioritise the nearest hazards so the driver would not be overwhelmed or distracted with light or sound.

Jaguar Land Rover says Bike Sense will also identify hazards that the driver cannot see. If a pedestrian or cyclist is crossing the road, and they are obscured by a stationary vehicle for example, the car's sensors will detect this and draw the driver's attention to the hazard using directional light and sound.

If the driver ignores the warnings and presses the accelerator, Bike Sense will make the accelerator pedal vibrate or feel stiff, so the driver instinctively knows not to move the car forwards until the hazard has been avoided.

Bike Sense will also help prevent vehicle doors being opened into the path of bikes when the vehicle is parked, by warning passengers of an approaching cyclist, motorbike or car through sound and light inside the vehicle. If any passenger continues to open the door, the door handle will light up, vibrate and buzz to alert them to the danger.

Dr Epple added: "By engaging the instincts, Bike Sense has the potential to bridge the gap between the safety and hazard detection systems in the car and the driver and their passengers.

"This could reduce the risk of accidents with all road users by increasing the speed of response and ensuring the correct action is taken to prevent an accident happening."

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The accompanying video shows a cyclist ignoring the lane markings (they are in the lane for left turning traffic and they travel straight on); ignoring the left hand indicator on, on the car.

It also shows the driver about to open his door without checking the road behind is clear to do so. He then further compounds his error by getting out and walking across the road without looking to see if it was clear.

Are we to accept that such technological advances allow such ignorance and carelessness to be acceptable? None of this is necessary, and none of the technology is foolproof, yet fools both the individuals represented are guilty of.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
+3

Actually what might work though is if the bicycle was equipped with a bell which by some piece of technological wizardry actually sounded inside a nearby vehicle.... an i-Bell perhaps.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)
+6

I have it on good authority from a haulier who shall remain nameless that beeping cycle detection devices tend to get disabled in their fleet because as their work involves going down country lanes, the proximity of hedges etc means beeping is incessant. I don't condone this but the problem is a reasonable point to raise.

Bikes should have bells, particularly to alert pedestrians and other cyclists to their presence. If you have ever tried to use a bicycle bell to alert the driver of a moving car with the windows closed and competition from the engine, road noise and probably the radio, you will know the only effective way is to throw the bell at the car and hope the driver hears the impact.

I think the the notion of door sensors has potential, and if they only needed to operate when the vehicle was stationary the incessant beeping problem would not arise.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (9) | Disagree (0)
+9

Can I ask the question...at commuting time what happens in London or any other capital city where there is an abundance of cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians bearing down from all sides? Would there be any way of turning the d** thing off before it blows the mind? Maybe increasing the volume on the stereo would do the trick?

As said before, bicycles should have bells on. I believe when sold that is, or was, the law, and motorcycles have horns. If in doubt about being seen or acknowledged, users should make use of them.
Bob Craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (11) | Disagree (4)
+7

Better to have technology to aid the driver than totally autonomous cars. This particular system should be fitted to lorries, or any other high-cabbed vehicles, as a priority.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (9) | Disagree (0)
+9

Or alternatively you could fit a real bell to each bicycle.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident

Agree (6) | Disagree (8)
-2