Jaguar Land Rover is conducting research into ways of warning drivers about the presence of cyclists and motorbikes in a bid to reduce the number of accidents involving these vulnerable road users.
Dubbed ‘Bike Sense’, the system uses an array of sensors to detect approaching cyclists and motorcycles and then warns the driver in a more instinctive way than just display a warning icon on the dashboard.
Instead, the system can sound a warning – perhaps a bell for a bicycle or a horn for a motorbike – through the stereo, using the speaker that corresponds to the direction the cyclist is coming from.
If the system detects the bike will overtake the car or pass on the inside, the top of the car seat will extend to ‘tap’ the driver on the shoulder, causing them to instinctively check either to their left or right.
Bike Sense can also use a series of LED lights on the window sills, dashboard and windscreen pillars to highlight the direction of the approaching hazard, glowing amber and then red as the cyclist approaches, with the illumination moving across the various surfaces to correspond with the cyclists’ 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 colours like red and yellow will trigger an immediate response, while everyone recognises the sound of a bicycle bell.
The system is said to be intelligent enough to prioritise the nearest hazards in situations where the car is surrounded by cyclists or pedestrians, avoiding distracting the driver with alerts.
Where a cyclist is crossing the road but is obscured by another car, the system can still detect them and alert the driver.
If the driver ignores the warnings and presses the accelerator to move off, the pedal will vibrate or stiffen to provide an instinctive warning.
Bike Sense could even warn passengers not to open doors into the path of an approaching bike, by sounding an alert or flashing the door handle.
At present, Bike Sense is little more than a concept and research project, although the company hopes to make the system a reality.