Bicycles

Simple gadget puts bikes on cars' radar

Simple gadget puts bikes on ca...
The Shield TL is claimed to dramatically increase a bike's radar reflectance
The Shield TL is claimed to dramatically increase a bike's radar reflectance
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The Shield TL also features a tail light
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The Shield TL also features a tail light
The Shield TL is claimed to dramatically increase a bike's radar reflectance
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The Shield TL is claimed to dramatically increase a bike's radar reflectance

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.

The Shield TL also features a tail light
The Shield TL also features a tail light

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.

Source: Kickstarter

6 comments
Roger Garrett
Yep. It will work. It's a standard retro-reflector. But the one shown will only work for when the vehicle is behind you. If you're crossing in front of the vehicle or heading towards it, that device will not help. You'll need four of them, one pointing in each direction, front, back, left, right.
dailyrider_US
Personally I think the safer way would be to have separate bike paths apart from regular traffic. Like they do in Holland. If you build it, they will ride.
MD
Wow modern tech.. Radar retroreflectors, just like boats, bridges and many other structures have used for years.... Pretty simple to make out of a few sheets of tinfoil or other conductive materials.. Useful for the autonomous driver who is distracted by too much in-car tech to look where they are going. Pity it only works in one direction.
possum1
Get these out to the motorcycle community too ! Drivers cant see motorcyclists wearing hi-vis riding a machine with its headlight on, self drive cars don't seem to be able to ID m/cycles either, so having the radar footprint of a freight train may help. Oh, wait, people drive under trains all the time and a self drive car drove into the side of a white semi trailer because it "didn't recognise it". Looks like we are back to looking after ourselves as best we can !
piperTom
I hope these "inventors" didn't spend TOO long in their "analysis" of how stealth works... so that they could reinvent the corner reflector! Corner reflectors have been standard equipment for ships and air craft since the invention of radar -- maybe before that. It's still a good idea; it's just not an invention.
Captain Obvious
OK, so up to 100% improvement is... 3 dB. Well, it has a red light, too, so there's that.