A cure for SMIDSY? Spoke technology provides riders and drivers with real-time road safety alerts

A company called Spoke aims to improve road safety by providing drivers and drivers with hardware and software that provides real-time data on hazards through the use of wireless Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology. We had the opportunity to demonstrate at the Sea Otter Classic in California.

V2X is the communication between a vehicle and everything it can affect, such as: B. other road users.

Spoke says it will provide the first connected IoT [Internet of things] Ecosystem “to provide secure, direct communication for contextual awareness and warnings between drivers and passengers, improving safety for all road users”.

For example, the technology should alert the driver when vehicles are approaching from behind, as well as give warnings when car doors are open or when vehicles pull out of parking spaces. The technique can also warn a motorist who points out that a nearby cyclist is likely to pass inside, for example to avoid being run over, although there are many other situations that could be highlighted.

In other words, Spoke tries to avoid the common situations that lead to Sorry Buddy I Didn’t See You (SMIDSY) incidents.

“Once implemented, this new technology will usher in a new era of connected mobility, providing passengers and drivers with real-time data on safety risks on the road. This marriage of technology and mobility will offer both cyclists and drivers the safest driving experience on the road.”

The backbone of Spoke is C-V2X – cellular Vehicle-to-Everything technology. C-V2X is based on the existing 5G technology (the fifth generation technology standard for broadband mobile networks).

According to Spoke, it is working with numerous other companies, including Audi and many major bike manufacturers, to create a new vulnerable road user ecosystem for everything (VRU2X). It is said that VRU2X will enable direct communication between all users ten times per second. The US technology giant Qualcomm is to develop chips that support this technology.

Spoke plans to provide “dedicated hardware and software to unlock C-V2X communications for the most vulnerable road users” – including cyclists. This means “vulnerable networked computers, displays, cameras and lights the size of users in the street”. There are also plans to provide safety features and ride enrichment features.

“All of these features, like VRU2X traffic alerts, connected route navigation, safety services, driving, health and fitness experiences, [will be] delivered via the Spoke app, the OEM’s digital application, or synced to existing third-party apps, all of which can be accessed via the spoke bike display or smartphone.”

A car’s C-V2X system communicates directly with the spoke system mounted on a bike; It does not go via satellite and therefore does not require network coverage.

We had the opportunity to try out the spoke system at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California last week.

2022 Sea Otter Spoke - 1 (1)

All the magic happens in a little black box attached to the bike. Spoke has a system where the box is housed in a compartment at the bottom of a bottle cage, although other designs are possible. It could even be carried in a cyclist’s pocket.

The box is wirelessly connected to a head unit that sits on the handlebars. Spoke was at pains to point out that the large main unit it has developed to demonstrate the system is by no means the version it will eventually launch. Something comparable like a Garmin Edge or a Wahoo Elemnt computer is much more likely. The security features are only part of the package; You also get more traditional bike computer functions: speed, distance, power output, and so on.

We rode a bike equipped with the Spoke system and traveled in a car equipped with compatible technology while another rider sat on the bike.

2022 Sea Otters Spoke - 2nd

A scenario showed that while driving, a warning appears on the head unit screen if a car approaches from behind. The warning could just as easily take the form of an audible warning.

The technology can theoretically warn when the car and bike are within 300 meters of each other, but that’s probably too far under most circumstances, especially in urban settings. Spoke estimates that the sweet spot for providing alerts is around 5-7 seconds before certain situations are likely to occur, or 3-5 seconds when emergency response is required. If the bike moves away from the vehicle, no warning is given.

Another possibility is that the system warns a cyclist of hazards around a corner. For example, suppose you are approaching an intersection in a closed area and your view is obstructed by buildings. The technology could warn you that a car is approaching the same intersection at a right angle and will arrive at the same time, even though you cannot see that car.

The system can warn a driver that a cyclist is coming out of an intersection or between parked cars, even though they are not visible. Likewise, it can be set up to warn an indicating driver not to perform a maneuver when a cyclist is approaching from the inside.

As mentioned above, the details of the scenarios for which alerts are provided can be customized fairly easily. The key point is that the technology can provide communication between different road users to improve safety, even when those road users are not visible to each other.

Spoke says the necessary technology will find its way into millions of cars over the next two or three years. Its software and hardware does not require a subscription; You buy the corresponding device and you can get started. Spoke also describes itself as an open platform and plans to integrate with third-party apps. No release date or pricing has been set yet.


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