Motorcycles

Motorcycle brake lighting system doesn't care how you're slowing down

Motorcycle brake lighting syst...
Vololights is a brake lighting system for motorcycles, that illuminates even when the rider is slowing down by downshifting or engine braking
Vololights is a brake lighting system for motorcycles, that illuminates even when the rider is slowing down by downshifting or engine braking
View 3 Images
Vololights is a brake lighting system for motorcycles, that illuminates even when the rider is slowing down by downshifting or engine braking
1/3
Vololights is a brake lighting system for motorcycles, that illuminates even when the rider is slowing down by downshifting or engine braking
Contained within the Vololights frame are eight red LEDs, a microprocessor, and a 3-axis accelerometer – a white LED also provides continuous illumination of the license plate
2/3
Contained within the Vololights frame are eight red LEDs, a microprocessor, and a 3-axis accelerometer – a white LED also provides continuous illumination of the license plate
The electronics within the Vololights system
3/3
The electronics within the Vololights system

California-based engineer Faizal Ali was riding his motorcycle on a San Diego freeway one day and downshifted in order to slow for an exit. Because he didn’t actually apply the brakes, however, his brake light didn’t come on. As a result, the following car almost ran into him. That experience prompted him to partner with Jesse Szynal and designer Fausin Mdisa to create Vololights – it’s a rear lighting system that activates no matter what method the rider is using to decelerate.

Vololights is integrated into a user-installed rear license plate frame. Contained within that frame are eight red LEDs, a microprocessor, and a 3-axis accelerometer. A white LED also provides continuous illumination of the license plate.

After being calibrated by the user upon its initial installation, Vololights will be able to detect any noteworthy decrease in speed, whether it’s caused by downshifting, engine braking, or simply application of the brake levers.

Contained within the Vololights frame are eight red LEDs, a microprocessor, and a 3-axis accelerometer – a white LED also provides continuous illumination of the license plate
Contained within the Vololights frame are eight red LEDs, a microprocessor, and a 3-axis accelerometer – a white LED also provides continuous illumination of the license plate

If the rate of deceleration indicates a normal braking scenario, the Vololights’ two rows of four red LEDs will flash alternately at a rate of two times per second – this just alerts drivers to the fact that the motorcycle is slowing. If the bike decelerates very quickly, however, the lights will flash five times a second, letting drivers know that they have to react fast in order to avoid an accident.

An algorithm running in the microprocessor is designed to filter out false alarms, such as when the rider is slowing the bike while descending steep hills.

The designers are now raising production funds for Vololights, on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$79 will get you a system, when and if they’re ready to go. More information is available in the pitch video below.

Sources: Vololights, Kickstarter

21 comments
Pres
Excellent idea for increased motorcycle safety. However, imho, it should also be a safety requirement on cars.
Renee Rypstra
Brilliant idea, I wish you guys well in your venture. I hope to see Vololights on the market in Australia. There's a challenge for you, the international market, we have 2 or 3 different licence plate sizes here alone! Again all the best with this brilliant idea.
Guy Macher
Jim Hall used this on his automatic transmission Chaparral Can-Am race car in the 1960s. Jim used a blob of mercury in a curved tube which made contact with the positive brake light wire completing the circuit whenever the car decelerated. Before the word got out, fellow racers thought he was having brake trouble and thus sat back waiting for Hall's car to leave the track.
Mzungu_Mkubwa
Yeah, great idea! However, two thots: first, you need much brighter LEDs, guys. I could barely see them in the video where the sun was shining on them. Second, think about other locations to mount this other than the license plate... on the back of helmets would be a great place, IMO... or just re-design the module so that it can mount anywhere, including above or below the plate. Good luck!
Alex Haws
It's bad enough on motorways when people follow too closely and keep dabbing the brakes, causing a ripple effect down the line and speed to drop off and/or people to panic and brake too hard because they've seen lights. There is nothing more annoying then seeing brake lights going on/off in front of you every 2 minutes for no good reason, it would be ten times worse with this system!
sidmehta
Standard practice is to tap your brake briefly before downshifting. Out of basic courtesy to the driver behind you. ' The tap alerts the driver in the car following you that you just braked a bit. Otherwise he has to do a hard panic brake. Looks like Faisal Ali doesn't know this. For all of us that like to downshift please follow this practice even if you are downshifting in a car. Tap your brake lightly and briefly, then downshift.
Faizal Ali
Hello, Faizal here, to Alex comments, we definitely considered your concern. We set the trigger points at two points. We selected the trigger points so that it does not come too often that it desensitizes other drivers. We also turn off immediately when it sense acceleration, e.g. when you slow down to take a turn and and accelerates. The LEDs are selected with a narrower angle so that only the driver behind you sees it but less distracting to the adjacent lane driver. To Sidmehta comments, we're simply automating what you and I both agree something all drivers should do. Thanks for the feedback guys!
Bruce H. Anderson
Much like the Vovedesky Cyberlight from decades ago. Ahead of its time I suppose. Even a decelleration without a downshift can suprise people, so this update may be a good thing, but nothing new. There is also Safe Ride and the P3 systems.
snave
30 years as motorcycle instructor: Engines make bikes go. Brakes make bikes slow down and stop. Use the 79 bucks to take professional training...
esar
I've learnt something today just reading this, I'll be more weary of being behind a bike from now on. It's about time we made use of technology like this, I'd love to fit this to my car. Just remember high level brake lights were a gimmicky accessory when they first came out, now lots of cars have them built in. Suggest you guys think about licensing the technology to car manufactures !