Leveraging IoT Technology to Make Driving and Cycling Safer and More Efficient

With solutions emerging everywhere, from automotive titans to scrappy startups, technological approaches to improved safety and efficiency for drivers, cyclists and even motorcyclists are quickly evolving.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

Ford is also developing a consumer-focused version of the e-bike concept, known as MoDe:Me, paired with the Ford Focus.

"The e-bike concept is the latest experiment in mobility," says Alan Hall, a technology communications manager at Ford, "and we'll be building several prototypes to evaluate our ability to combine electric bikes and cars to support both personal and small-business needs."

The Bike Shield smartphone application
Volvo is also experimenting with using technology to make cycling safer (and more attractive to traffic-weary riders) through collaboration with helmet manufacturer POC and telecommunications company Ericsson, which it debuted in January 2015, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The project consists of connected car and helmet prototypes that communicate with each other via a cellular link and trigger alerts to both a driver and a cyclist in the event that the cyclist is in proximity to the car. Of course, the idea is that the alerts trigger only if the vehicles are in danger of colliding, such as approaching each other at a blind corner.

(Volvo has already rolled out an anti-collision feature called the City Safety system that can detect, warn and auto-brake in order to avoid collisions. It became standard issue in the company's 2013 XC90 model.)

An Invisible Shield
Pere Margalef, a French engineer who loves to ride his bicycle and motorcycle, says he thinks a day will come when all car manufacturers will integrate collision-avoidance systems as a standard feature. The only problem, he says, is that he does not want to wait. That's what motivated him to develop Bike Shield, a smartphone application that triggers alerts to drivers if a bicycle or motorcycle is nearby, provided that the biker or motorcyclist is operating a phone that also runs the Bike Shield app. The app employs a phone's built-in GPS technology to monitor each user's location. That data is transmitted, via the Internet, to Bike Shield software, which then delivers an alert to the car's driver five to 10 seconds before the cyclist or motorcycle becomes visible.

"We send an acoustic warning to the car driver, through his phone," Margalef explains. "[To signal] for a bike, it's a ringing bell—it's very distinct and won't be confused with the phone's ringtone—and for a motorcycle, it's the sound of an idling motorcycle engine."

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