Image of biker riding alongside car on the road

The collision-warning system uses laser sensors mounted on the
bike for rear collision avoidance.

Mechanical engineering professor Rajesh Rajamani and RSI director Max Donath, both with the University of Minnesota (U of MN), have been awarded a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. This “Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity” grant awards funding to academe-industry partnerships whose proposals move research toward implementation of a human-centered smart service system. In this new project, Rajamani and Donath will partner with Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) to explore implementation and possible commercialization of the bicycle collision-warning system developed by Rajamani in his Institute-funded research.

The project, titled Smart Human-Centered Collision Warning System: Sensors, Intelligent Algorithms and Human-Computer Interfaces for Safe and Minimally Intrusive Car-Bicycle Interactions, aims to reduce the estimated 48,000 injuries and 700 fatalities that occurred last year in the U.S. as a result of bicycle-vehicle collisions. The system will help motorists keep a safe distance when passing bicyclists and alert only those drivers who are most likely to collide with a bicycle—while minimizing false alarms and unnecessary distractions to motorists. Bicyclists will get guidance cues from the system to ensure a safe and respectful response to vehicles. Human factors concepts will be used to design an alert system that gives motorists specific and effective audio-visual cues—and to help ensure cyclists don’t respond to the improved security by riding more recklessly.

“Bicyclists face far greater consequences in a crash than a motorist,” Rajamani says. “So it’s in the best interest of the bicyclist to be proactive in preventing a collision."

Nichole Morris, principal researcher with the HumanFIRST Lab at the U of MN, will lead work on the human factors components of the research, which includes improving the warning system. Additionally, Loren Terveen, professor in the U of MN’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, will serve as a co-investigator.

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