Jaguar Land Rover’s virtual back-seat driver warns you with a tap on the shoulder

Back-seat drivers can be a real annoyance to drivers and Jaguar Land Rover appears to be drawing on this bothersome trait for its latest bicycle safety system.

Jaguar Land Rover has launched an array of new features to help reduce the 19,000 cyclists killed or injured on UK roads every year, with one solution likely to prove divisive among drivers.

Bike Sense, Jaguar’s new system for cyclist detection, can detect when a bike is coming up the road behind the car. Depending on whether the cyclist undertakes or overtakes, then the top of the car seat will extend to tap the driver on their left or right shoulder.

Drawing on instinct

The purpose of this virtual back seat driver is to cause the driver to instinctively look over the shoulder that has been tapped in order to identify the hazard the system has warned them about.

Another safety measure includes the use of the car’s audio system to give the driver a real-time impression of a potential collision, for example a bicycle bell or motorbike horn will play through the speaker nearest the bike.

A bank of LED lights will also be in use on the window sills, dashboard and windscreen pillars. These will glow amber and then red when a bike nears and the movement of the red and amber colours will give the driver an impression of the bike’s direction.

Intuitive colours

Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, explained that there are certain colours and sounds that will be more intuitive and recognisable for drivers than others.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

In areas where there are larger numbers of bikes, Jaguar’s system can prioritise the nearest hazards to save the driver from being distracted by various lights and sounds going off simultaneously inside their car.

While still a concept technology at present, Bike Sense is being developed at Jaguar Land Rover’s Advanced Research Centre in the UK.

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