But it is not visual warnings that the technology is looking at using; Jaguar Land Rover technicians are looking at colours, sounds and touch inside the car to warn drivers about potential danger that could be caused by an encounter with a bicycle or a motorbike, making the driver aware of possible hazards.
And it's not just your usual generic icons and sounds that they are looking at using.
Under the premise that the brain takes a bit of time to process the information, Bike Sense uses lights and sounds that the driver will instinctively associate with the potential danger.
When it comes to sound, the use of a bicycle bell or motorbike horn sound through a speaker on the side that the bike is coming from will supposedly allow the driver to know where the hazard is, or where it is coming from.
Then if a bicycle or motorbike is coming up the road behind the car, Bike Sense will work out if the bike is overtaking or coming past the vehicle on the inside. Once it has worked this out (assuming that the bike rider knows themselves!), the top of the car seat will extend to ‘tap’ the driver on the left or right shoulder, leading the driver to instinctively look over that shoulder to see the potential hazard.
And if that's not enough; the closer a cyclist gets 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. As these move across the surfaces it will highlight the direction the bike is taking.
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.”
Obviously, in a busy urban situation, rather than light up the board like a disco, the car's Bike Sense will use it computer common sense to prioritise the nearest hazards, thus avoiding any more driver distraction than is necessary with the already ongoing light or sound.
Bike Sense also manages to spot hazards that the driver cannot see like a pedestrian or cyclist crossing the road obscured by a stationary vehicle . Again, lights and sound will draw the driver’s attention to the hazard.
If the driver decides to ignore the warnings and presses the accelerator, Bike Sense will make the accelerator pedal vibrate or feel stiff until the hazard has passed.
Bike Sense will also help prevent vehicle doors being opened into the path of bikes when the vehicle is parked via not only the already detailed light and sound combination, but also by making the door handle vibrate, light up and buzz.
“By engaging the instincts, Bike Sense has the potential to bridge the gap between the safety and hazard detection systems in the car and the driver and their passengers,” added Dr Epple. “This could reduce the risk of accidents with all road users by increasing the speed of response and ensuring the correct action is taken to prevent an accident happening.”
You can see a video of this story here but I wonder if they have taken into consideration a couple of things.
Firstly I wonder if they are considering the danger of the reaction of a driver who is travelling alone on a dark night (or dusk) being suddenly tapped on the shoulder? And what about the already overwhelming amount of warning signs and noises in our current crop of cars mixing in with these new alerts?
And I wonder if they have considered the stupidity and arrogance of some cyclists who think that the road is there for them and just change their mind at the last minute as to which direction they are taking?