A recent patent filing shows Suzuki developing a laser-based collision warning system that alerts drivers by projecting bright lines and icons on the road.
Patent filings show Suzuki toying with laser-based collision avoidance systems
Whenever we throw a leg over a motorcycle, we accept a certain amount of risk. Those of us who want to live to ride another day take various steps to mitigate this risk – helmets, riding suits, high-vis vests, riding courses, extra lights, etc. The hardest thing to account for is the average driver's level of obliviousness. There are so many driving distractions nowadays that many drivers don't see the other cars around them, let alone little old us on our nearly invisible morotcycles. Suzuki has an idea how to get drivers' attention though, and it involves lasers.
So, we got our hands on some patent drawings from a recent Suzuki patent filing that show a very cool laser-based collision avoidance and warning system. Apparently based on aftermarket laser systems used by bicyclists, Suzuki's system projects a dynamic safety box on the pavement around a bike with bright laser projectors. The box tightens up at slow speeds, and expands at higher speeds to alert drivers that the bike is there and the safest distance at which to follow.
The clever part here is that the lights seem to be tied into a 360-degree sensor system that detects surrounding traffic and tells them how close they are to the bike. Start tailgating a bike and the rear projected light starts blinking, get too close and it turns into a giant red X. The system also apparently uses different sensors to detect lean angle, acceleration, and all that good stuff to place the safety box juuuuuuuuuuuuuuust right during maneuvers.
So, is a laser-projected safety box a good idea? Will it help reduce bike/car collisions? Maybe? It's hard to say. Bicyclists have found some success with similar, less dynamic systems, but ultimately it relies on a driver's ability to notice laser images projected on the road surface. I'll be honest, I don't know that I'd trust the average driver to notice anything short of Godzilla outside their car, let alone some lasers on the asphalt. Who knows though, maybe we'll all have lasers on our bikes soon. Then we'll finally live in the bright neon, laser-drenched cyberpunk future we were promised in the 80s.
PS: I threw this album on while writing to get myself in the mood to write about lasers, so I suggest you listen to it while you read.