Spoke builds the future of Car-to-Bike-to-Car awareness

One of the big challenges to getting more and new cyclists on the road are safety issues, especially riding a car. Spoke Safety is expanding the technology to reduce that risk, creating a safer road for all users, but with special benefits for Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) such as cyclists, by allowing cars and bicycles to communicate with each other.

And, importantly, they can talk without relying on cellular signals or GPS.

We’ve seen some solutions in the past, such as Garmin’s Vario on-bike radar that warns the rider of cars coming from behind. And in-car systems from Volvo and POC, haptic alerts from Jaguar, or combined app-plus-car transmission technologies, too. The problems with many of these are that they were market specific, required active adoption and use by motorists, or related to self-signals, which are too slow and restless.

The B2V system mentioned in 2021 was a closer step in the right direction, and has (had?) Great bicycle industry support, but the range is limited.

Now, Spoke has a solution that has massive reach, uses existing technology, is able to fit on a bike, and already has Audi on board. Here’s how it works …

Spoke C-V2X car to bike safety technology displayed on audi dash

Using C-V2X tech, the hardware lets bikes talk to cars EN cars talk to bikes. And, it happens 10x per second to deliver real-time location fier rather than just using GPS on your phone. While it does not rely on cellular data, the in-car devices are connected via 4G / 5G via a Qualcomm chip and Telekom / T-Mobile service, which further expands its range.

That range pushes well past Bluetooth or WiFi, giving drivers 10+ seconds of heads up that a rider is ahead, even when they are over a hill or around a corner and not in direct view. That said, a driver may see a warning like the one shown above well before they can actually see the rider, giving them enough time to slow down (and look up from their text messages).

Spoke C-V2X car to bike safety technology displayed on audi dash

It can also tell a parked car if a rider is coming from behind, and from which side, with enough advance notice so they can wait to pull their seat … displayed).

That last part is key in some situations. The system is tied to the car’s controls and front camera so it can know what the driver is doing (or wants to do). Thus, there are situations where it may not always work as intended, but in general it is intended to notify drivers when a cyclist (or other VRU) is hit or run over.

Spoke C-V2X car to bike safety technology displayed on audi dash

The warnings change based on the rider’s position, helping the driver to know when a cyclist can ride next to them in their blind spot.

It even knows when cyclists are coming down a side street, giving them a heads up that they need to be aware of when entering an intersection. In principle, it lets cars know where bikes are …

speak safety bike computer screen show where cars are on the roads

… and let bikes know where cars are. Due to the positional accuracy, riders can now see cars from behind or in front, or from side streets.

This is the real secret sauce for Spoke, that they can miniaturize the technology. Not shown is the small transmitter that is kept flat under a water bottle on a custom cage. Still, these cycling computers are the definitive form factors, but compared to the device of a bread-sized device that sits in cars, it is a practical form factor for cyclists that can be easily integrated into the frame, a taillight, saddlebag, ensfh.

speak C-V2X communication technology diagram

And that’s the goal, to integrate the electronics into both bikes and cars, to allow riders to use the bike computer of their choice and to allow bike brands to integrate the technology as a sales function. But they will also offer standalone transmitters for anyone who wants to upgrade.

It can even be integrated with on-bike cameras. This would allow it to change from displaying a graphical warning of cars coming behind you to actually showing you the car (and, most likely, picking it up) as it gets closer.

C-V2X transmitter for commercial and municipal car tracking and communication

Vehicles, however, will need the tech installed, but Spoke is optimistic. Audi is already an official partner, and they say they have more brands coming online in both the automotive and bicycle worlds, but they could not share who.

What is promising is that this technology is already widely used. That transmitter shown above uses the same band, allowing cities to track municipal services such as snow plows, etc., and turn the traffic lights green when they arrive.

By using these in combination with cars and bicycles, cities can learn where traffic and different users are, and adapt their infrastructure planning accordingly. But, fortunately, the C-V2X (Cellular-Vehicle to Everything) tech does not rely on them, so this system will work for cars and bikes wherever these cars have them installed.

It’s perhaps the most promising tech we’ve ever seen for warning drivers of the presence of a cyclist, no matter where they come from. Yes, we’ll have to add it to our bikes, and cars will have to add it to their dash, but its passive nature means no one has to pick it up once it’s installed … it just works.


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