Jaguar Land Rover is pioneering a new range of technologies to protect passing cyclists and motorcycles.
Dubbed ‘Bike Sense’, the new system alerts drivers when other road users are approaching and can identify them as bicycles or motorcycles, making the driver aware of risks before they can see them.
Sensors placed around the car detect the other road users, but instead of using a warning icon, Bike Sense instead uses lights and sounds specifically associated with potential hazards.
According to research undertaken by the company, generic warning icons and alerts take time for the driver’s brain to process, slowing down reaction times and increasing the chance of an accident.
Visual and audio warnings
Instead, Bike Sense will emit a bicycle bell or motorcycle horn noise depending on the incoming hazard, and flash red lights on the car’s pillars which drivers will instinctively associate with danger.
Not only that, but the system will emit the sound from the direction that the danger is in; if the cyclist is on the left of the car, sound will come through the left speaker and vice versa.
Dr Wolfgang Epple, Jaguar Land Rover’s director of research and technology, 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.”
A tap on the shoulder
The Bike Sense system will also detect if oncoming cyclists are due to overtake the car, in which case it will gently ‘tap’ the driver on the shoulder with the top of the car seat.
Drivers will then instinctively look over their shoulders to keep an eye out for the oncoming hazard, while the feature will also prioritise the nearest risks if a group of bikes are approaching.
If the driver ignores the warnings and presses on the accelerator, Bike Sense will stiffen and vibrate the pedal in order to make the driver take their foot off until the hazard has passed.
Other functions include a warning system to prevent motorists opening the door into the path of bikes when the vehicle is parked, by lighting up and vibrating the door handles.
“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,” Dr Epple added.
“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.”
While the new system isn’t yet production-ready, Jaguar Land Rover has stated that it’s working on introducing Bike Sense to its new range within the next two years.