Cyclesafe is a sensor system that makes cycling near semi trucks a little safer.

Photo Credit: Fast Company

Photo Credit: Fast Company

Drivers of semi trucks have to make it to their destination while dealing with huge blind spots, which can be the size of an entire trailer. That means if a dozen cyclists pull up next to a semi at a red light, the driver might never see them. There's a new system that will help both truck drivers and cyclists avoid disastrous accidents. 

Fast Company notes that other truck sensor systems exist, but they aren't commonly used and they don't work all that well. 

"They all focus on warning the driver, whereas the cyclist is the most maneuverable and would be the obvious person to warn," said Martin Keane a designer from Glasgow who has been working on the project since he was a student. 

"Other sensor systems pick up a lot of railings and parked cars and trees, so they can provide a lot of false warnings, which in the end will cause drivers to ignore them."

Called the Cyclesafe, Keane's system detects bikes through sound waves and sends a warning inside the cab and outside the truck to warn the driver to brake so the cyclists can pass, while also signalling to cyclists that they are in the truck's blind spot.

"I was down in London and lucky enough to get inside one of large HGVs [a semi] and realize just how big all of the blind spots are around the vehicle," Keane said. "That kind of opened my eyes. But talking to cyclists, they didn't seem to have that same insight. So this was about trying to warn them they were in danger."

In London, nine cyclists were killed by heavy goods vehicles last year. The mayor is now considering options such as Cyclesafe to make roads safer for cyclists. 

"Ideally, cyclists would have their own lane," said Keane. "I think cycle lanes are a good thing. But they're a huge investment in infrastructure, so if a small sensor system in a lorry can make a difference, I think that's great as well."

The system has been tested in a lab and roadside, so Keane is now looking for funding to test the software in trucks. 

Photo Credit: Fast Company

Photo Credit: Fast Company