As autonomous technology becomes more prevalent in everyday life - society must adapt to interact with it. This technology is in its infancy, and already its shortcomings have lead to tragic events. It is necessary to optimize cyclists’ safety to adapt to these modern changes. The best way to do that is to ensure they are clearly “seen” by autonomous technology.
Autonomous cars rely on a mix of Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and cameras to detect their surroundings. Unfortunately Cyclists are difficult objects to track by this emerging technology. They move relatively fast, present a small profile, and can move through traffic in unexpected ways. Using simple corner reflectors it is possible to make cyclists highly visible to these sensors. Corner reflectors have long been used to mark obstacles to make them more visible to RADAR or LIDAR. They are common place around Airports, Marinas, Shipyards. It only makes sense to bring these reflectors to our roads to ensure that cyclists are seen the same way a ship sees a rock in a reef or a airplane sees a mountain through fog. These reflectors are often used in an “array” configuration to increase visibility.
A corner reflector is comprised of three planes that intersect each other at 90 degrees. A minimum of 0.90” is required for the wavelengths generated by LIDAR. A Laser beam enters the reflector, reflects on all three surfaces, then the beam exits the reflector parallel to entry. This makes a relatively small surface extremely effective at reflecting back to the source. Light reflectors found on cars operate on the same physical principals but can use much smaller reflectors due to the wavelength of a light beam.
A cyclists’ head is the highest point when they are moving, making it the first part of a cyclist that is seen while moving through traffic. Due to this the head is desirable location for reflectors for LIDAR to “see” a cyclist.
A comparison of the effects of corner reflectors would be analogous to a sphere vs. a flat plane. A sphere will always reflect a tiny amount of light back at the source, but most of it is reflected away from the source. Flat plane that is perpendicular to a beam source will reflect all light directly back to the source provided the vectors of reflection are correct. Corner reflectors act as a flat plane that accommodate a wider variation of input angles while maintaining high reflectivity.
A helmets shape is mostly dictated by the shape of the head. There is little room for deviation in the overall shape. Form finding was focusing on ways to apply an array of corner reflectors to a complex surface while still emphasizing the emphasis on standard helmet shape for maximum safety.
Sculpting in clay was an instrumental part of this project as subtle surface differences greatly affected the grid structure that was needed to form a uniform array of reflectors with complex angles needing to coincide with each other. Many iterations were done before a final form was arrived at.
360 reflectors for increased visibility
Vented for comfort
Traditional crash protection
Auto shrink chin strap