Jaguar Land Rover is trialling a new advanced safety system to help warn drivers of nearby cyclists and motorcycles in a number of unique ways, including making sounds like ringing bells and physically tapping drivers on the shoulder.
The technologies form part of the British luxury car maker’s ‘Bike Sense’ project that is currently being conducted at its Advanced Research Centre in the UK.
Sensors on the car will detect bicycles and motorcycles and aim to make drivers aware of a potential hazard before they see it using unique lights, sounds and sensations rather than generic warning icons and buzzes.
To help drivers know where a bike is in relation to their vehicle, the car’s audio system will make a sound like a bicycle bell or a motorcycle horn through the speaker nearest the rider.
When a bicycle or motorcycle is approaching from behind to overtake on either side of the vehicle, Bike Sense will extend the top of the car seat to tap the driver on the left or right shoulder. JLR says the idea is that the driver will then instinctively look over that shoulder to identify the potential hazard.
Additionally, as the cyclist gets closer to the vehicle, LED lights on the window sills, dashboard and windscreen pillars will glow amber then red as the bike approaches, with the movement of the lights to highlight the direction the bike is taking.
The car maker says if a group of cyclists, motorcycles or pedestrians are moving around the car on a busy urban street, the system can intelligently prioritise the nearest hazards and will not overwhelm the driver with light or sound.
Bike Sense can also detect pedestrians and cyclists that the driver cannot, such as those obscured by a stationary vehicle, and can draw their attention to the potential hazard.
If drivers ignore the warnings and press the accelerator, the system can send vibrations through the throttle pedal and make it feel rigid to deter the driver from accelerating.
Bike Sense can also help prevent vehicle doors being opened into the path of bikes when the vehicle is parked, warning occupants of approaching hazards by illuminating and vibrating the door handle and sounding a warning buzz.
Jaguar Land Rover research and technology director Dr Wolfgang Epple said the Bike Sense safety suite is tailored to humans’ instinctive awareness of danger that has developed over thousands of years.
“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,” Epple explained.
“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.”
“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.”
JLR quotes statistics showing that nearly 19,000 cyclists are killed or seriously injured on UK roads every year.