Each year more than 700 bicyclists are killed in crashes with cars, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some automakers, like Volvo, already offer pedestrian and bicyclist detection systems, and Jaguar is following suit. The automaker is testing new systems that use colors, vibrations and sounds to alert drivers to potential collisions involving bicycles.
If a bicycle is near the car, the Bike Sense system responds in several ways: a bicycle bell sound will be piped through the audio system in the speaker nearest the bike, helping the driver pinpoint the bike’s direction. As the bike continues to move, a cluster of amber and red LED lights will illuminate on the windowsills, dashboard and windshield pillars, depending on the bike’s location.
Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Human beings have developed an instinctive awareness of danger over thousands of years. Certain colors like red and yellow will trigger an immediate response, while everyone recognizes the sound of a bicycle bell.”
If sounds and lights aren’t enough to get drivers’ attention, Bike Sense will also “tap” the driver on the shoulder to make him or her aware of the bike; the top of the driver’s seat will automatically extend, creating a tapping motion. The idea is that the feeling will make the driver look over that shoulder to identify a potential hazard. If the driver still doesn’t see the bicyclist, and presses the accelerator pedal, Jaguar says Bike Sense will make the accelerator pedal vibrate or feel stiff, warning the driver not to accelerate.
“Bike Sense takes us beyond the current technologies of hazard indicators and icons in wing mirrors, to optimizing 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,” Epple said.
NHTSA also reports that bicyclists make up 2 percent of the people injured in traffic crashes, and many of those injuries happen when a stationary car door is opened into oncoming bike traffic. Bike Sense also works to prevent door accidents; if a passenger starts to open the door in the path of a bike, the door handle will light up and buzz to alert them to the danger.
Right now, Bike Sense is a concept Jaguar is testing in the automaker’s Advanced Research Centre in the U.K. but there’s no word yet on when the systems will see production.