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Can ‘bicycle-to-vehicle’ communication help make cycling safer?

Can ‘bicycle-to-vehicle’ communication help make cycling safer?


Trek Bicycles and Tome Software working with Ford to alert drivers when cyclists are nearby

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Holiday Season in New York City
Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Cyclist deaths are at a historic high: 840 bicyclists were killed by automobiles in 2016, the highest number since 1991. In an effort to prevent further mayhem on the roads, Trek Bicycle is working with Ford Motor Company and Tome Software to create a “bicycle-to-vehicle” communication system, the companies announced at CES today.

We hear a lot about “vehicle-to-vehicle” (V2V) communication and “vehicle-to-everything” (V2X) communication. Cars with the right software can use cellular technology or a high-speed, low-latency medium called dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) to communicate with each other. This effort to connect our cars to each other and the world around them is part of a broader initiative to pave the way for the mass deployment of autonomous vehicles. But what about vulnerable groups like pedestrians and bicyclists?

what about vulnerable groups like pedestrians and bicyclists?

Tome has partnered with Trek Bicycle to create an AI-based bicycle-to-vehicle (B2V) communication system to help drivers get alerts to bicycles ahead in dangerous areas of the road. Unlike existing cycling products, they focus on giving driver alerts, which is sure to appeal to the cycling community.

Their technology works on existing bicycle products for all cyclists. Trek and Tome say they are working to make their product brand-agnostic, so that it’s not tied to any one platform or product. They will be licensing the software technology to the cycling and automotive companies as an industry standard, and say they will work with Ford to make sure autonomous vehicles and bikes are communicating. For the next year, Tome will be working at the Mcity autonomous vehicle test site at the University of Michigan to develop software that can go into bike and car accessories and apps. 

“This is something that will absolutely save lives if we do this,” Tome founder and CEO Jake Sigal told the Detroit Free Press recently.

Trek and Tome aren’t the only ones working on B2V technology. Three years ago, Swedish car brand Volvo came to CES to unveil a prototype cycling helmet that offers two-way communication between the wearer and nearby drivers to help prevent accidents.

Meanwhile, Ford is working with Qualcomm on a system called cellular vehicle-to-everything. C-V2X also provides opportunities for direct bicycle electronics integration, as well as mobile phone app integration for cyclists.