03 Feb Connected Bicycles Tell Cars: Don’t Run Me Over
Last month at the Washington Auto Show, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he’s considering a plan to collect data about car accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians. Nearly 5,000 pedestrians were killed in 2012, the most recent year the data is available—a new high. Tens of thousands more are injured every year.
That’s not a bad idea at all. And some car companies are already figuring out how to improve bike safety using the influx of data they already have from car sensors—which, among other things, can essentially “know” when a bike is approaching,
Jaguar Land Rover, for instance, wants to know the best way to get drivers to quickly respond. The British automaker recently announced results from its “Bike Sense” research project.
Jaguar believes we should go beyond standard vehicle warnings. In its Bike Sense program, the vehicle uses lights and sounds—or a vibration on the car seat that taps the driver on the shoulder. When the driver opens a door in the path of a speeding cyclist, the handle buzzes.
The job of anticipating car-bike accidents is becoming easier, thanks to sensors and connectivity. At CES 2015 in January, Osram Opto, a German maker of laser and photodiodes—working with Phantom Intelligence, a tier-one auto supplier—equipped a Maserati with a lidar-camera unit that dramatically cuts the cost of a laser sensor down to about $150. Osram hopes a low-cost unit, designed specifically to detect pedestrians crossing in front of vehicle, could be deployed to millions of vehicles.