It is possible that, pretty soon, your bike will be able to talk to cars on the road and ask them to scoot a bit.
At CES 2021, Tome Software announced that it is leading a joint effort to standardize Bicycle-to-Vehicle (B2V) communications. This year, the push for B2V has accrued additional supporters, among which are industry stalwarts such as Bosch, Specialised and Trek. Ford is a big part of it, too, as it has worked alongside Tome since the inception of the technology.
While Tome is not announcing any one product it is highlighting products and software from its partners, like the Trek Bontrager Flare RT light and the Ride App from Specialised, along with Tomes’s own developer kits.
The announcement cites Ford’s Vice President of Vehicle Components and Systems Engineering, who said the following:
“Cyclists and e-scooter riders are a growing part of mobility solutions sharing American roads, which is why Ford is investing heavily in ways to improve awareness between road users and allow more confident mobility – whether you’re on two or four wheels… As we advance the technology, we also need other industry leaders to join in developing standardised wireless communications technologies that can help accelerate these types of innovations for more people, sooner.”
Ford is hopeful that the technology can be implemented for e-scooters, too. Keep in mind that Ford bought e-scooter company Spin in 2018. That gives the blue oval company a significant advantage in B2v integration for their products. Though, as the technology becomes standardised it will be available to all manufacturers.
When B2V was first announced at CES 2018, there was a lot of coverage about the benefits the technology could bring for bicycle commuters and drivers alike. Ford even debuted a jacket developed in collaboration with Tome that had LEDs to help bicycle riders telegraph their actions to motorists.
That jacket is not exactly revolutionary, and the technology’s progress has been slow-going since, but it’s possible current tech might finally make B2V communications viable. Think of the progress wireless communications have made, what with Bluetooth 5.0 and LE, and the maturing of tech such as Ultra-wideband. And don’t forget of the annoying ubiquity of the Internet-of-Things (IoT).
All this new tech could mean B2V communication is around the bend and it can’t come soon enough, because unfortunately, motorists and bike commuters are still largely natural enemies due to the ways that both groups disregard each other’s rules of the road. They’ll often accuse the other of reckless behaviour, but it’s not necessarily true that all bicycle commuters flaunt traffic signal rules or right-of-way etiquette, nor does it mean that all motorists willingly ignore bicycle riders.
Even so, 675 cyclists died in vehicular collisions last year. That number represents a decrease from years prior, but mostly because traffic rates decreased due to the pandemic. Bicycle commuting is a good alternative to driving for those who have the option but safety concerns always loom. Add to that the autonomous vehicle future envisioned by many and the danger only increases. This only makes B2V more relevant as AV tech progresses.
I certainly don’t need my bicycle lock to be connected to the cloud, but if the cloud can help my bike and a moving car talk to each other, I’m finally on-board for the IoT-everything hype.