Simple gadget puts bikes on cars' radar
In the near future, we're going to see an increasing number of Collision Avoidance System-equipped cars on the roads. Stated simply, the technology uses an integrated forward-looking radar system to alert drivers when they're rapidly approaching obstacles such as other vehicles. If those other vehicles are bicycles, however, their rear profile can make them difficult for the radar to detect. That's where iLumaware's Shield TL comes in.
Inventors Chris Mogridge and Alexis Stobbe created the device by analyzing how stealth technology works, then essentially going in the opposite direction – whereas stealth vehicles are designed to evade radar signals, the Shield is made to catch those signals and reflect them back to the cars. It does this purely via its unique shape, not emitting any actual signal itself.
In field tests, it boosted bicycles' radar signature by up to 100 percent, and thus increased the distance at which they could be detected by Collision Avoidance Systems.
Of course, it's also important that drivers notice cyclists. With that in mind, the Shield additionally features an 80-lumen tail light. One 2-hour USB charge of its battery should be good for 25 hours of use in High mode, or 76 hours in Strobe.
iLumaware is currently running a Kickstarter campaign, to raise production funds for the Shield TL. A pledge of US$45 will get you one, when and if they're ready to go. The planned retail price is $89.
Riders who want some added protection might also want to check out Garmin's Varia Radar device, which detects vehicles approaching from behind by emitting a rear-facing radar signal of its own.