They want to build beacons into bikes. Will implants in pedestrians be next?
Bikes are tough for autonomous cars. We saw recently how Uber couldn't detect one being walked across an empty street. Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn complains that when it comes to AVs, "One of the biggest problems is people with bicycles. The car is confused by [cyclists] because from time-to-time they behave like pedestrians and from time-to-time they behave like cars." Ghosn also complained that cyclists were free-spirits: "They don't respect any rules usually."
We noted a few months ago that companies were designing "bike to vehicle" systems so that the AVs would know where those pesky free-spirited cyclists were. Now, Carlton Reid of Bike Biz reports that even senior people in the bicycle industry support building beacons into bikes. At a recent symposium on the Future Networked Car, the general manager of the Confederation for the European Bicycle Industry said, “Bicycles will definitely have to communicate with other vehicles.”
Manuel Marsilio is quoted by Reid:
“We need to find solutions to make cycling safer,” he said. “It is not easy for human drivers to see cyclists on the roads, to predict their movements, and at the same time bicycles are generally considered the most difficult detection problem that vehicles systems are currently facing.”
Sometimes, it is hard to tell what side of the road Mr. Marsilio is on:
While some cyclists know how they're supposed to behave and sometimes, unfortunately, they don't want to behave in a safe and respectful way. Some drivers don’t know how to properly share the road with cyclists. Moreover, infrastructure in many places doesn't facilitate peaceful coexistence on the same roadways between cars and cyclists therefore the bicycle industry has started to work on creating [artificial intelligence]-based bicycle-to-vehicle communication systems to help drivers get alerts.
To which most bike riders would rise up and say Fix the damn infrastructure! Separate the bikes from the cars! But no, he continues promoting the techno-fix, the beacons on bikes and who knows, maybe people.
“We don't know what's gonna happen in 20 years, if we're all gonna have chips in our bodies," said Marsilio, "but to be frank I think it's a matter of safety and we will have to find solutions for everybody's safety so if that means we all have to have smartphones or smart watches or whatever it is to make everybody safe well, let's see but that should be the direction that we have to follow.”
"The beacon just came out of nowhere" https://t.co/MGi8O0yLhT— Dave Atkinson (@roadccdave) March 22, 2018
Of course, such a system won't work unless everybody is turned into a beacon or is chipped somehow, and every moose in North America will have to be chipped as well. And who knows if it will actually work. But no doubt they will start with bikes, saying as they do with helmets, "if it saves just one life."