New Velo AI Copilot bike light uses AI to keep cyclists safe – Global Cycling Network

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a divisive topic in the world as its creeping influence has an increasingly bigger effect on everyday life. That influence has also seeped into the world of cycling where it is used to help professional riders with their recovery and fuelling, while everyday cyclists will encounter it through apps such as Strava. Now a US-based company named Velo AI has introduced a bike light that harnesses the power of AI in the name of safety to help keep cyclists safe on the road.

The light in question, the Copilot, serves the obvious function of helping to make cyclists visible to other road users, except it does it in a unique AI-powered way. Through in-built smart sensors, according to Velo AI, “it can understand when a vehicle safely negotiates past a cyclist or identify an aggressive or distracted driver approaching dangerously”.

This information alone isn’t particularly useful but it’s the way that the light then uses it that is interesting. For a start, the light will change colour or its pattern in an attempt to draw a driver’s attention to the cyclist, which it says should “help prevent crashes before they can occur”.

A key part of the safety equation is also the cyclist who often isn’t aware of what’s going on behind them, after all, it’s not easy to look behind while riding forwards. Copilot provides a solution to this by providing what CEO Clark Haynes describes as a “sixth sense”. Whenever a car is approaching or overtaking, a rider will receive audible alerts to warn them. The light can also be paired with a smartphone, at which point it will provide visual alerts too, although the phone will obviously need to be mounted on the handlebars.

The product has been in the offing for a while now, going on pre-sale in December of 2023, but will be available for shipping this month, and is inspired by the company’s desire to protect cyclists from accidents, which it says are predominantly from behind.

“40% of crashes and fatalities happen from being hit from behind,” Velo AI chief of staff, Alison Treaster, said on its social media channels. “The more we can make drivers aware and the more attention we can draw to the cyclist, hopefully both parties are more prepared to avoid any kind of crash.”

The bike also has an in-built camera that can capture footage, much like a rear-facing dash cam, which can be downloaded or tagged with moments of interest, such as close encounters in the Velo AI companion app.

It’s the latest example of AI being used to improve cycling safety with 19 companies joining forces at the end of 2023 to form the ‘Coalition for Cyclist Safety’, which aims to lead the deployment and expansion of vehicle-to-everything communication technology (V2X) within the cycling industry. A form of AI communication technology, V2X is used throughout the automotive industry and allows vehicles to communicate important information which can be used to relay any potential hazards on roads. Canyon also announced its intention to integrate V2X technology into certain e-bikes from 2026.

You can learn more about the Copilot on Velo AI’s website.

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