Range-Finding Rear-Collision Accident Prediction and Warning For Motorcycles with Integrated Signal Vest

The project at hand

Any experience with riding motorcycles will provide the rider with a comprehensive understanding of the dangers of the machine. As one's experience grows, they begin to understand what the specific problems are that lead to the increased likelihood of an accident. For motorcycles, the biggest problem is visibility; both of and from the motorcycle.

Motorcycles are small when compared to other vehicles on the road. An average sports bike is about 30 in. in width and the height depends on the rider and how they sit. At the shortest possible riding position, the rider is the same height as the bike. This would give them a total height of approximately 45 in[1]. Comparing these dimensions to the second smallest vehicle on the road shows the massive difference between the different types of road users. The next smallest type of car is the mini-compact. The width of an average mini-compact is about 65in. and the height is about 60 in [2]. That's over twice a wide and over a foot taller than motorcycles. Considering the small size of the motorcycle when compared to the smallest car available it is apparent that motorcycles are tiny. With the massive size difference, it is understandable that a motorist will not see a motorcyclist. If a car can not see a motorcyclist, then they can not adjust their driving to compensate for the motorcyclist. These factors add up to an increased likelihood of a collision between a vehicle and a motorcycle. The situation is exacerbated when comparing the size of a motorcycle to a semi-truck. A danger with riding motorcycles is not being seen by a car or truck; which can cause a collision. Adding to this situation is the fact that motorcycle taillights are very small. It is common for the turn signal and brake signal to be smaller than a foot box in total surface area. With the lights being so small, it is difficult for drivers to see the change in the motorcyclists intentions. This can lead to accidents as the driver of the car will be unable to adjust accordingly to the motorcyclists intentions.

A second issue with motorcycles is being able to see the road around them. To start off, motorcycle helmets cut off a significant portion of the field of vision. When in a car, the driver can use peripheral vision to see when an object is moving next to them, then turn their head to get a full picture of the vehicle next to them. With a motorcycle helmet, the peripheral vision is obstructed and thus the vehicle next to the motorcycle is "invisible" to the rider. Visibility is reduced even further for seeing behind the motorcycle. Motorcycle mirrors are small in size and shake easily. Since the mirrors fit within the width of the handlebars (for turns with strong lean angles, this is a must) a decent portion of the mirrors visibility is taken up by the motorcyclists' arm and shoulder. With the arms and shoulders blocking part of the mirror, it becomes difficult for the rider to see the road behind them. The mirrors can capture some of the road to their side, but normally the rider cannot see behind them in their own lane. The reduction in visibility on the motorcyclists side means that the rider cannot adjust their riding to compensate for the vehicle behind them. This can cause accidents since the motorcyclist won't see everything behind them, and this can cause them to make dangerous movements.

The goal of this project is to address these two issues using external systems. In order to combat the issue of other cars seeing the motorcycle, an external system which makes the bike brighter (and thus more visible) is developed. Adding light to the motorcycle/motorcyclist will make the motorcycle stand out on the road. Drivers are much more likely to see and adequately evade dangerous situations involving motorcycles if they can see the bike. The extra light can also mimic the signals coming from the bike. The brake and the turn signals can be displayed on the system so the following vehicle can better see what the motorcyclist is intending on doing. The second problem of the motorcycle not being able to see behind them is mitigated via a rear mounted sensor and accident prediction algorithms. The rear mounted sensor must be able to determine if an accident is likely to happen quick enough for the rider to react accordingly. The sensor is not intended to replace the use of mirrors, but will provide the rider with an extra set of protection on the rear side. It is still the job of the rider to evade the potential accident. The accident prediction system sends a signal to the display lights to send a visual warning to the following driver so they can see the situation and make changes to avoid an accident.

An important factor of the project is cost. All of the design choices must involve a cost variable as to avoid increasing the price too steeply. The price of the system must be kept low in order to avoid drastically increasing the cost of the motorcycle. Since the project is being designed for implementation into industry, the cost must be kept in mind. Motorcycles are a lot cheaper than cars (at least for the bike itself, gear is a different matter). For a $30K car, adding a $1K - $3K LIDAR system is a relatively small change in price. For a $7K motorcycle, the same $1K - $3K LIDAR system, the change is drastic and entices buyers to choose a similar strength motorcycle for less money. For these reasons, the cost of the sensor system must be kept low. A safety feature is useless if it is too expensive to be purchased.