Bikers who travel on main roads and use cycling as their primary mode of transportation have to constantly be on the lookout for oncoming cars and trucks. Although there are laws in place to protect bikers and keep vehicle drivers accountable for paying attention and sharing the roads, bikers often risk more danger and injury simply because they are not enclosed in the shelter of a metal vehicle in the event of a collision.
Additionally, bikers are more likely to be run off the road by a car than the other way around. A car is bigger, faster and heavier, which puts the bike at a distinct disadvantage.
Bike safety is an area that bike and car manufacturers are always looking to improve and now, with the increasing technological advances being utilized for self-driving cars, there may be a new option —teaching a car to recognize a biker and respond accordingly.
Google has developed a new patent that will allow self-driving cars to interpret hand signals used by bicyclists to indicate turning, stopping or slowing down. The company has had plans for this system for the past year but the patent explains the design.
How It Works
According to Google’s patent information, the interpretation is done through the system’s sensors — the camera, LIDAR and RADAR. These sensors provide information about the objects and landscape around the self-driving car and report back to the driving controls. If a cyclist near the self-driving car uses a hand signal to indicate a left turn, for example, the sensors pick up that motion and translate it accordingly. Then, the information is used to adjust the car’s speed or location as needed.
In order for this to work specifically for bikers on the road, there is a lot of analyzing that goes into it. Most importantly, the sensors have to read the obstacles around them as a biker rather than a road sign, tree, other vehicle or something else.
To do this, Google says that the sensor systems can analyze the height of an obstacle and compare that data against the average height of previously-recognized bikers. If the distance between the ground and the top of the cyclist’s head is within a certain span, the car can generally assume this is a cyclist.
Additionally, the car’s sensors will analyze the distance between a biker’s hand and his or her head. A short distance typically indicates a turning hand signal and a longer distance may mean the biker is signaling a stop or change in speed. The sensors will also determine the angle of the biker’s hand and whether he is signaling a right or left turn or if he is holding up a hand to demonstrate “stop” or “slow.”
As manufacturers begin to build more complex safety features into today’s cars, drivers can expect to see a variety of developments and changes designed to keep them and everyone else on the road safer. Google’s patent puts us one step closer to safely sharing the road between cyclists and drivers and will hopefully lead to a decrease in accidents and dangerous situations.
At Levine Law, we represent anyone who has been injured in a car or bike accident. To discuss your case, contact a Denver auto accident attorney at our firm today.