A caring car

By Sean Hua

Cycling and motorcycle riding is growing in popularity, however it’s not a preferred method of getting to work by most. One of the oft-cited reasons for this choice is the perceived danger of sharing the road with cars. The fears come with good reason, as drivers are often only conscious of other cars, and even then, frequently not!

Bike riders blame car drivers for not paying attention, while car drivers blame bike riders for taking up valuable road space (or something like that). Either way, there is a level of tension that exists between the two groups, but by and large, the occupants of the 1.5-ton metal box win out over those on two wheels.

Jaguar, historically famous for once producing the fastest sedans in the world, are now testing a sensor system that alerts drivers to the presence of a rider in their blind spot. The method of alert is currently being tested, with a range to be implemented from a mechanical “tap on the shoulder”, to the sound of a bike bell, to flashes on the car pillar or instrument panel. More warnings are due to be enabled the closer the car gets to the rider. Crucially though, the response to avoid the rider is in the hands of the driver.

Collision prevention technology is nothing new. Google have famously been road-testing their driverless cars (covered in this blog post here), while Honda and BMW have also recently tested their own systems that take over control in risky situations. These alternatives cover the spectrum of safety from a fully autonomous vehicle (Google), assisted driving (Honda and BMW), to autonomous driving (Jaguar).

What does this mean for drivers and riders you might ask? For the latter, it will mean safer roads immediately. Collisions due to lack of awareness or slow reaction times will likely be reduced thanks to greater awareness for the drivers. An incentive to cycle more perhaps, but only if adoption rates by drivers are high; thus pulling demand both ways. For those who enjoy the experience of driving though, the chances are they would prefer a system like Jaguar’s that allows them more control rather than less, and that might damper the appreciation of assisted driving.

If legislation enforced such systems in the name of road safety however, we may see them become quite common and accidents due to human error would be a thing of the past. We might see the use of cars decline and cycling numbers skyrocket… or as this article suggests, we may see ridiculous levels of congestion.

Where does that leave those who enjoy getting behind the wheel though? Perhaps we may be reduced to being weekend warriors and recreational drivers; enthusiasts enjoying the modern forms of transport from a bygone era. In fact, not unlike the cyclists of today… Wouldn’t that be something?

Image credit: deezeen.com

Read more here: http://www.dezeen.com/2015/01/20/jaguar-bike-sense-alert-tap-drivers-prevent-cycling-accidents/

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