TNO: Automatic braking for cyclists

TNO is working on an automatic warning and emergency braking system for cars and trucks to help prevent accidents with cyclists, especially at and near junctions. For electric bikes, the system’s integration looks imminent. While the number of traffic fatalities in the Netherlands is decreasing, the number of cycling fatalities and critical injuries is showing …

TNO is working on an automatic warning and emergency braking system for cars and trucks to help prevent accidents with cyclists, especially at and near junctions. For electric bikes, the system’s integration looks imminent.

While the number of traffic fatalities in the Netherlands is decreasing, the number of cycling fatalities and critical injuries is showing a slight increase. In the Netherlands alone, 8000 cyclists are admitted to hospital each year following an accident. With the number of cyclists on the increase – due in part to the introduction of the electric bike – this is a worrying fact that must be addressed. Cycling is a healthy activity and should not be hampered by safety issues.

Statistics show that a car is involved in 80% of cyclist fatalities. How can we reduce this figure? TNO has devised various solutions to help reduce the number of victims among the most vulnerable participants in traffic (cyclists and pedestrians). One of TNO’s solutions is to equip cars and trucks with a warning and automatic braking system and with sensors capable of communicating with other road users.

OUT OF SIGHT

Automatic braking is nothing new. The active safety systems already installed in some cars are equipped with sensors and real-time feedback. However, these systems have their limitations in terms of range and sight lines. Their effectiveness is particularly limited where cyclists or pedestrians are crossing the street. A cyclist or pedestrian who is about to cross the street outside the range of the sensor(s) – for example, to the rear of a truck – is detected too late or not at all. This presented TNO with the ultimate challenge of developing a system that reliably detects, tracks and predicts the most vulnerable participants in traffic – cyclists and pedestrians – especially when they are crossing the street.

COOPERATIVE AUTOMATIC EMERGENCY BRAKING

In realising the Cooperative Automatic Emergency Braking system (CAEB), TNO is drawing on the intelligent Vehicle Safety Platform (iVSP) it developed earlier, the same platform that enablesautomatic driving. The iVSP draws on various information sources (radar, communication, map data), seamlessly combining these data with the information gained from vehicle sensors and other information sources (surrounding infrastructure, bikes, pedestrians).

The bicycle transmits its own position and speed with the aid of wireless communication, GPS and internal sensors. This information is combined with data from sensors in the car before being processed and analysed by the in-car iVSP. If the cyclist enters a time-critical zone, the system puts itself on ‘alert’. The system gives the driver visual and audio signals, followed by a tightening of the seatbelt. The car brakes gently at first and then, if the driver does not take action, sharply. In this way the system prevents a collision with the bicycle.

ELECTRIC BIKE FIRST CANDIDATE

For various reasons, the electric bike has been chosen as the first candidate to be integrated with CAEB. In particular, the electricity needed to power the equipment is available on the bike itself. Moreover, the electric bike is used mainly by seniors; the age group that runs a high risk of becoming involved in a traffic accident while cycling.

DEMONSTRATIONS

The CAEB-system was demonstrated successfully at iMobility on 11 September 2013, seeeuronews.com
At ICSC 2012 TNO showed that a cyclist airbag can contribute to bicycle safety, see the project.

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