Jaguar's new 'Bike Sense' tech will alert drivers to nearby cyclists

Car firm's research takes the notion of a back-seat driver to the next level
Jaguar's new 'Bike Sense' tech will alert drivers to nearby cyclists

Ever undertaken a tedious journey with a passenger that finds it difficult not to 'ghost drive'? You know, the type to reach for a phantom steering wheel should you stray too close to a hedge or the kind that frantically rams their foot into the carpet should the speedometer read anything above 30mph.

Well, Jaguar could make this type of 'panicky passenger' technology standard on future models should its 'Bike Sense' research get the green light for production.

The new range of technology, which harnesses the camera and sensor features already seen on many Jaguar Land Rover models, uses colours, sounds and touch inside the car to alert the driver to any bicycle or motorcyclist that may have strayed into a blind spot.

Jaguar claims the sensor technology can determine when a cyclist or motorcyclist is approaching and the vehicle will then emit a sound to alert the driver to potential danger.

But rather than emitting just any sound - an irritating bong, for instance - Bike Sense uses noises the brain instantly relates to vulnerable road users.

So, if a cyclist pulls up at the rear of the vehicle, Bike Sense will sound a little bicycle bell via the audio system through the speaker nearest to the bike.

Similarly, if a motorcycle approaches in the driver's blind spot, a horn will sound from a speaker near the driver's right shoulder.

To ensure future drivers won't ever fail to spot another vulnerable road user again, the top of the car seat can even extend, like some kind of automotive spirit, and 'tap' the driver on the shoulder should Bike Sense detect a cyclist or motorcyclist attempting to come past the vehicle on the inside.

Jaguar says the idea is that the driver will then instinctively look over their shoulder to identify the potential hazard.

The system can even warn a driver not to open his or her door when a cyclist is passing via a vibrating door handle and flashing LEDs.

Jaguar's new 'Bike Sense' tech will alert drivers to nearby cyclists

Researchers are also keen to see how motorists react to different light sources, so Bike Sense includes a matrix of LED lights on the window sills, dashboard and windscreen pillars, which glow amber and then red as the bike approaches.

When coupled with the car's built-in camera and sensor technology, the LEDs will strobe and pulse to highlight the direction the bike is taking.

Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Human beings have developed an instinctive awareness of danger over thousands of years.

“Bike Sense takes us beyond the current technologies of hazard indicators and icons in wing mirrors, to optimising the location of light, sound and touch to enhance this intuition."

But what if the driver decides to visit London and is overwhelmed by the swarm of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycles? According to researchers, the system will prioritise the nearest hazards and only highlight those whose paths conflict with the car, so motorists aren't bombarded with noises and lightshows.

And, should the driver decide to ignore the warnings and try to drive through a busy pedestrian crossing, the system can also send a vibration through the accelerator pedal - although Jaguar is keen to point out the driver can override the system at any point.

Elements of the research will be brought into production within the next two years, according to a Jaguar spokesperson. Until then, you'll just have to make do with the old-fashioned type of back-seat driver.