Dutch scientists have developed a smart bicycle that uses sensors, wireless technology and video to warn riders of traffic dangers. Ben Gruber reports.
Maurice Kwakkernaat is testing out his new bike. Instead of avoiding cars on the road, the research scientist wants to get as close as possible. It's part of a test to see if the bike he developed with a team of researchers from the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research will help keep elderly people safe while cycling. (SOUNDBITE) (English), TNO SENIOR RESEARCH SCIENTIST, DR.IR. MAURICE KWAKKERNAAT, SAYING: "We see a rise in accidents with elderly people and we also see the rise in the use and the amount of time they are on the bicycle. That means that the number of accidents increase and we try to reduce that by using new technology." The new technology is an early warning system. It uses a combination of radar and video to give a signal that a vehicle or obstacle is dangerously close. That signal comes in the form of a vibration. (SOUNDBITE) (English), TNO SENIOR RESEARCH SCIENTIST, DR.IR. MAURICE KWAKKERNAAT, SAYING: "Vibration happens to be a very effective way to warn a bicyclist, and we have done that by putting vibrating elements in the handlebars of the bike and also in the saddle of the bike and in that way we can very effectively warn him of danger from the front, from the back, but also indicating left and right." The saddle of the bike vibrates when there is a potential hazard in front or behind, while the handle bars buzz if there is imminent danger on either side. Kwakkernaat and his team are looking to incorporate wireless features to the system that will allow bicycles and cars to communicate. The end result, he says, is a safer commute, whatever your mode of transport.