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The safe, connected cyclist

In the connected traffic environment of the future, information will be transmitted between vehicles wirelessly. Cars, buses and lorries will ‘talk’ to each other, thereby creating safer traffic with fewer accidents. The technology is called V2X. The aim of the recently completed project V2Cyclist is to develop new solutions that will make V2X technology viable for cyclists too.

There is currently a great deal of research into wireless communication and information transfer between vehicles such as cars, buses and lorries. A reduction in the number of road-traffic accidents is the aim of V2X technology, which goes hand in hand with development of autonomous vehicles – connected vehicles that ‘talk’ to each other in order to ensure smooth movement and avoidance of collisions.

“In the V2Cyclist project we’ve looked at how we can use V2X technology to also make traffic more secure for cyclists. In this way we wish to increase cycling’s attractiveness as a mode of transport,” says Johan Fagerlönn, senior researcher and project manager at RISE.

Crossing traffic causes the most accidents

Based on Volvo Cars’ car/cyclist accident statistics, we know that the most common accident situation involving cars and cyclists is when a car is driving straight ahead and a cyclist crosses the carriageway in front of it. Visibility is often partially obscured, thereby hindering road users. A dangerous accident situation as regards personal-injury consequences is when a car catches up with a cyclist on a road and then runs into the cyclist. The accidents occurring in such a situation are usually fairly serious, as both the car and the cyclist can maintain high speeds.

With V2X technology, accidents between cars and cyclists will be prevented. Thanks to wireless communication, the car and/or the motorist and the cyclist get information on the other road user and are thus able to take action, e.g. by slowing down, swerving or stopping.

“The warning can be issued by means of either a short voice message, a signal or a vibration – or in various combinations using a multimodal interface. The information will not be cognitively demanding – road users will rather be able to act intuitively on the message or signal,” says Johan Fagerlönn.

Bone-conduction technology so as not to cover the ear

To make V2X viable for cyclists a technique called bone conduction is used, i.e. the speakers are placed in front of the ear in the bicycle helmet, and the sound is conveyed to the inner ear through the bone. This means the ear canal is not covered, so the cyclist can simultaneously hear all the traffic noise as usual.

The V2Cyclist project is completed, and has been demonstrated to stakeholders both indoors using a test bike and screen and outdoors on a bike in a defined traffic environment, in the situations identified by accident statistics.

“V2X technology works for cyclists, but there are a number of areas that need developing,” says Johan Fagerlönn. “For example, complex realtime calculations are required, to establish when the information should reach the cyclist, so as to allow him/her time to process the message and act on the information, thereby avoiding an accident. Because a human needs more time than a vehicle to process information and take action," says Fagerlönn.

V2X catching on with the advent of autonomous vehicles

V2X technology must also be adapted to allow full incorporation into a helmet as regards size and power consumption. The project used a V2X unit intended for technological evaluation, and because of its size it had to be put in a rucksack worn by the cyclist or mounted on the bike. Wireless information is sent from the car to the device in the rucksack, and thence to the bicycle helmet. In the bicycle helmet there is a small integrated computer that wirelessly receives traffic data from the V2X module in real time and determines whether there is a hazardous situation and whether the cyclist should be given a warning.

“The V2X technology will probably catch on when selfdriving vehicles penetrate the market. The vehicles will then need to be able to talk to each other, and we hope cyclists will then also be part of the standardised communication platform. And there’s probably not much time left. We have an exciting time ahead of us,” says Johan Fagerlönn. 

V2Cyclist is an FFI project.

RISE roles in the project were: project manager, interaction design and technical development of the helmet prototype.

Partners: POC, Scania, Volvo Cars, Svensk Cykling, Kapsch TrafficCom.

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Johan Fagerlönn

Senior Researcher


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