Majority of “smart city” technology focuses on motor vehicles, however, one startup company wants to shift some of the emphasis toward cyclist safety. The Boston-based company, Charles River Analytics, has created technology which allows bicycles to communicate with connected vehicles and smart-city technology to promote safer shared roadways.
The company conducted its first real-world testing in the Innovation District downtown. The system, Multimodal Alerting Interface with Networked Short-range Transmissions (MAIN-ST)
“This is technology that’s being pushed really hard in the automotive space,” said Michael Jenkins, a senior scientist with Charles River Analytics. “ … What we’re doing is focusing on the pedestrian and bicyclist because they’re vulnerable transportation users who are often overlooked.”
The idea was funded by a $750,000 research grant awarded to the company this summer by the Federal Highway Administration that will be disbursed over two years. The FHA isn’t endorsing the MAIN-ST technology, Jenkins said, but it is interested in pushing technology forward for safer cycling.
The smart bicycle takes advantage of Las Vegas’ smart streets initiative. The traffic lights in Vegas are equipped with sensors that can read and distribute information to certain cars. The same technology has been adopted by the smart bikes.
The data from the bicycle is sent from radios, such include bike speed, location, and acceleration or deceleration to traffic signals. The traffic lights then know when the bike is going to arrive and can tell the rider if the light will be red or green.
The bicycle also has the capability to talk to cars in the surrounding area to give location updates, making drivers and riders aware of each other. Charles River Analytics hopes the technology is available in early 2019.