Jaguar Land Rover's Bike Sense tech warns drivers of cyclists with a tap or a buzz

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Bike Sense uses lights, sounds and tactile sensations to alert drivers to the presence of cyclists

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Just last month, Volvo announced a new safety system that warns drivers of approaching cyclists via a symbol on their car's head-up display. Not to be outdone, Jaguar Land Rover has just announced its own system, which takes a more tactile approach – among other things, it buzzes drivers' hands and feet, and even taps them on the shoulder.

Known as Bike Sense, the system uses sensors in the front and rear of the vehicle to detect bikes that are approaching from the rear, front, or to either side. It's also able to identify them as bicycles or motorcycles.

When one is detected coming up from behind to overtake the car, the system will inflate a small cushion on one side or the other of the driver's seat backrest. This will serve to "tap them on the shoulder" on the side on which the bike is passing, prompting them to shoulder-check.

Additionally, as the bike is passing, the car's sound system will produce the sound of a ringing bell (or a horn, if it's a motorcycle) on that side. A matrix of amber and red LEDs on the window sill, dash and windscreen pillars will also illuminate on that same side, scrolling in the direction that the bike is traveling.

Those lights and sounds will also come on when the driver is at an intersection, if a cyclist or pedestrian is approaching from either side but is obscured from the driver's direct view. If they try to accelerate anyway, the gas pedal will vibrate as an additional warning.

Should they be parked and are about to open their door in front of an oncoming cyclist, the sounds and lights will once again let them know that one is coming. If they proceed to try opening the door, its handle will buzz and illuminate.

While things like shoulder-tapping cushions and bike bell sound effects may seem like gimmicks, the engineers behind the system claim that they're actually more effective than other solutions. "Bike Sense takes us beyond the current technologies of hazard indicators and icons in wing mirrors, to optimizing the location of light, sound and touch," said Dr. Wolfgang Epple, Jaguar Land Rover's Director of Research and Technology. "This creates warnings that allow a faster cognitive reaction as they engage the brain’s instinctive responses."

Bike Sense is still in development, at the automaker's Advanced Research Centre in the UK. There's no word on when or if it will appear in production vehicles.

The system is demonstrated in the video below.

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