'Smart' Bicycle Has Radar, Vibrates When It Senses Obstacles

The smart-bike was developed in The Netherlands, where bicycles are a popular form of transportation. schermpeter42 [CC by 2.0]/Flickr

A new "smart" bicycle has been unveiled in the Netherlands, and its high-tech gadgetry might be the closest thing to a Pee-wee Herman bike on the market, but far less accident prone. In fact, the bike is loaded with safety features and was designed specifically for the purpose of reducing the high accident rate in the bicycle-loving country, particularly among elderly cyclists, reports Discovery News.

The bicycle, which is slated to officially go on sale within the next two years, sports a radar system mounted below the handlebars that can detect approaching obstacles. A small camera in the rear mudguard keeps a watchful eye on your backside. When an obstacle approaches from the front or the rear, the system activates vibrating handlebars and a vibrating saddle to alert the rider to the impending danger.

A cradle is also included which can be inserted with a computer tablet that can be set to flash a bright signal when danger approaches. The tablet mount also allows the rider to wirelessly connect and "talk" to the bicycle through a dedicated application. The full medley of devices will be particularly useful for cyclists propelled along by the bicycle's electrical motor, which can reach a top speed of 16 miles per hour.

"Accidents often happen when cyclists look behind them or get a fright when they are passed at high speed," said Maurice Kwakkernaat, one of the research scientists involved in the project. "The onboard system utilizes technology already at work in the automotive industry."

In the bike-obsessed Netherlands, bicycles actually outnumber the people. The nation accommodates bike owners with some 25,000 kilometers of bicycle paths crisscrossing throughout the country. A growing number of elderly are hip to the trend and are increasingly using bicycles, but these citizens are particularly accident prone. Of the 184 cyclists who died on the road last year, 124 of them were over the age of 65.

"More and more elderly people are using a bicycle, not only for short distances, but also for longer distances," said Dutch Environment and Infrastructure Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen. "This type of bicycle is truly needed in the Netherlands because it will help us down bring the number of elderly people who are injured every year and allow them to continue enjoy cycling."