A whole range of assistance systems for cars and trucks have now found their way into our everyday lives. In the case of bicycles, on the other hand, developments are concentrating solely on facilitating or accelerating movement, for example by supporting electric motors. Safety assistance functions that ensure sufficient distance, detect and report dangers or brake automatically are not yet available on this increasingly popular means of transport in Germany.
However, the market potential is enormous with a bicycle stock of 75 million bicycles, and statistics show an increasing number of accidents involving cyclists - especially in the age group between 6 and 13 years. This is mainly due to the fact that children at this age become more independent and also cycle longer distances without the company of adults.
In addition, they give recommendations for safe and correct cycling behaviour and provide specific navigation instructions. In view of the target group, this represents a major challenge: Both cognitive and physical abilities are not yet fully developed in children. In addition, not all traffic rules and signs are known and children's attention often wanders off the road.
In the project Safety4Bikes, the Interactive Systems group of the OFFIS Health division was concerned with the development and investigation of multimodal interaction concepts for bicycle helmets and bicycles. Warnings and hints are adapted to the situation by means of the peripheral field of vision, fade-ins in augmented reality helmets, as well as by acoustic and tactile signals, without distracting the child from the actual driving task. Our project partner - the department "Assistance Systems and Medical Technology" of the University of Oldenburg - developed new methods for the detection of dangers in the environment and driving behaviour. The developments were continuously tested with children: initially in the laboratory and then on a traffic practice area.
Safety4Bikes was nominated for the 4th Future Congress "Technik zum Menschen bringen" of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for the exhibition in Bonn in 2019 and was able to present its current project results to the audience there. The project team was pleased to welcome Ms. Anja Karliczek, Federal Minister of Education and Research, as a visitor. She was able to test the multimodal bicycle helmet and the bicycle equipped with sensors and actuators live.
The project ran until the end of 2019 and the technologies developed can serve as a basis for new developments for more safety in road traffic in the future. Other partners in the project besides OFFIS and the University of Oldenburg were GeoMobile GmbH (coordinator), UVEX Sports Group GmbH, Pfau-Tec, the Institute for Empirical Sociological Research IFES, Valtech GmbH and the University of Paderborn.
Dr. Wilko Heuten