ROAD safety isn’t just a black and white issue now Jaguar Land Rover has launched its Bike Sense research initiative.


New technologies currently in development are set to revolutionise road safety – for drivers and other road users – with colour playing a key role. Drivers will be alerted to potential hazards using colours, sound and touch, preventing accidents involving bicycles and motorbikes.


Bike Sense is powered by sensors placed on the vehicles, and will make drivers aware of potential hazards before they have even seen it. Reaction time is decreased further by not using on a generic warning icon or beep, with danger being highlighted by lights and sounds that the driver will instinctively associate with the potential danger.


To help the driver understand where the bike is in relation to their car, the audio system will make it sound as if a bicycle bell or motorbike horn is coming through the speaker nearest the bike, so the driver immediately understands the direction the cyclist is coming from.


As the cyclist gets closer to the car, a matrix of LED lights on the window sills, dashboard and windscreen pillars will glow amber and then red as the bike approaches. The movement of these red and amber lights across these surfaces will also highlight the direction the bike is taking.


If they are approaching from the rear, Bike Sense will detect if it is overtaking or coming past the vehicle on the inside, and an air cushion inside the top of the car seat will extend to ‘tap’ the driver on the left or right shoulder.


Bike Sense will also help prevent vehicle doors being opened into the path of bikes when the vehicle is parked, causing door handles to light up, vibrate and buzz to alert them to the danger.


If the driver ignores the warnings and presses the accelerator, Bike Sense will make the accelerator pedal vibrate or feel stiff, so the driver instinctively knows not to move the car forwards until the hazard has been avoided.


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.


“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. 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.”