Car accidents are the most common cause of death among young adults, and most people will experience at least a minor accident at some point in their lives – but what if we could put an end to that? That’s exactly what a number of tech startups are trying to do. Drawing on tools as varied as autonomous vehicles and cell phone signals, their innovations could save lives and change the way we navigate streets around the world.
Mass Transit Transformed
While public transportation is often billed as green transportation solution, only a limited number of cities, both in the US and on a global level, have truly accessible and useful public transit system. Take New York City as an example. While New York has one of the country’s only round-the-clock transit systems, meaning it can serve third shift workers as well as those with traditional hours, many of its subway stations are inaccessible to wheelchair users. Elsewhere, public transit is too limited, as to only serve those whose homes and work are perfectly positioned to take advantage of them.
To address these challenges, Bluespace.ai is seeking to bring automated vehicles to mass transit users. The company recently received a $3.5 million seed loan to continue building their services, with funding from a number of venture capital groups.
In addition to making mass transit more accessible and therefore reducing congestion and the likelihood of traffic accidents, by leveraging automation Bluespace’s public transit solutions, we could also remove the problem of human error. According to Hassan, Hassan, & Tuchman, PA, bus accidents are more common than many realize; they’re also more dangerous since buses rarely feature safety restraints. An automated transit solution could reduce these risks.
We often think of traffic accidents as primarily involving individuals in cars, but pedestrians are also victims in these incidents – and they’re comparatively defenseless. After all, drivers have their vehicle’s structure to protect them, but pedestrians are exposed. And while new sensor technology is billed as a tool to keep drivers from hitting pedestrians, braking automatically, they don’t work especially well yet, so the Israel-based startup Visiblezone proposed a new solution.
Rather than using object or motion sensors to identify pedestrians, Visiblezone wants to capitalize on the widespread use of mobile phones. Their system would use embedded firmware to pick up pedestrians’ phone signals and determine where they’re located. This would make it easier for other automated systems, like safety braking, to respond to pedestrians in the vicinity, preventing crashes.
Major Changes For Motorcycles
Motorcyclists are at a higher risk of injury and death in the event of a car accident than other drivers because, like pedestrians, they don’t have the same level of protection as those in traditional vehicles. Would riders be safer, though, if motorcycles were more flexible, meaning they could adapt to riding conditions, even in the middle of a ride? Considering that sports bikes and street bikes are designed for different riding conditions, this should be a major consideration.
Drawing on rider expertise and safety research, the startup Damon has developed a Variable Rider Geometry system that essentially allows riders to change their bike style mid-ride. Transitioning from a back road or from highway speeds onto a city street? Just press a button and the bike will morph. It may sound futuristic, but the setup could make motorcyclists, and those driving around them, safer.
Transportation is one of the most innovative industries of the moment, and it’s not all about glitz. Safety is a top priority on our roads, and more industries could be due to take their cues from the transportation sector.