Jaguar Land Rover keeps cyclists on their bikes

Cycling is on the rise following the popularity of the 2012 London Olympics and the movement towards low-emissions commuting. This means there are lots of potential accidents now waiting to happen because UK roads aren’t well suited to being shared.

If you are of the two-wheeled persuasion then you might want to follow Jaguars or Land Rovers from now on because the group has revealed Bike Sense – a suite of safety tech aimed at keeping motorists and cyclists from colliding with each other.

Hang on, hazard warnings aren’t new…

You’re right. Lots of cars come fitted with systems that can identify hazards in the road, warn the driver and, if necessary, stop the car for them. JLR’s system claims to be different because it’s optimised for instinctive human reactions.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology said “Human beings have developed an instinctive awareness of danger 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. This creates warnings that allow a faster cognitive reaction as they engage the brain’s instinctive responses”.

So what is it?

During normal driving, the system constantly monitors the surroundings of the car to identify potential hazards. If the system detects a cyclist or motorcyclist near the car it’ll play a warning through the speaker closest to the danger. The warnings are bike bells or motorcycle horns – allowing the driver to identify the danger faster.

Audio warnings are backed up by visual ones. A matrix of LEDs built into the window sills, A-pillars and dashboard follow the cyclist – giving the driver the visual impression of the location and direction of the danger. Colours change from yellow to amber to red to reflect the proximity of the danger.

The system has an advanced feature that, when presented with multiple obstructions, can prioritise the ones that present the most danger and just warn the driver about them. This helps avoid the potential for information overload when a group of cyclists pass you.

Should you get over- or undertaken by a cyclist the system can recognise when this will happen and down which side the cyclist will go. The top corner of the driver’s seat will then extend to ‘tap’ them on the shoulder associated with the side the cyclist is passing on. This instinctively encourages the driver to look to that side and see the danger.

If the – especially bloody-minded – driver decides to ignore the warnings the car makes the accelerator pedal become firm and vibrate. This is intended to get the driver to instinctively stop the car before an accident happens.

Finally, the system warns passengers if they are about to open their door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. If they ignore this warning, the system will illuminate the door and make the handle vibrate and buzz – once again, trying to illicit the instinctive reaction not to open the door.

The system is powered by a set of sensors and video camera systems that already exist on today’s production cars. These systems identify and classify the object based on the amount of volume of space they take up.

When can I have it?

JLR are still in the development phase for this system and, although elements may arrive on production cars sooner, a full production version of this system is at least five years away. In the meantime, check out our reviews of Jaguar and Land Rover’s ranges, our previews of the upcoming Jaguar XE and Land Rover Discovery Sport, and then head over to our car configurator to spec one for yourself.

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