Autotalks, a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology company, is selling bike and scooter manufacturers a device that aims to prevent accidents by alerting riders of potential collisions.
The device, called ZooZ2, is installed on the handlebar of a micromobility vehicle and, in addition to alerting the rider, also alerts all V2X-equipped vehicles and smart infrastructure about the existence of the rider. Autotalks is presenting its newest solution at the Velo-City Conference, a world cycling summit in Slovenia, in the hopes of signing on clients to integrate its tech for an initial market launch in 2024 or 2025, with mass market adoption in the years following.
Crucially, the ZooZ2 can only communicate with other V2X-equipped vehicles, so it's not a foolproof method of protecting riders at the moment, given only about 10% of cars are so equipped, according to Onn Haran, founder and chief technology officer of Autotalks. However, the global V2X market is projected to grow substantially in the coming years due to the rise of connected cars and favorable government initiatives, according to Astute Analytica.
"Most of the fatalities on the road happen outside the vehicle because vehicles are becoming safer and more robust, and those who get killed are the pedestrians and two-wheelers," Haran told TechCrunch.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's most recent data, 846 bike fatalities were from motor vehicle-related accidents in 2019, which is a 36% increase since 2010.
Autotalks isn't the only one to turn to V2X to help solve this problem. Audi recently partnered with Spoke, a mobility platform for safety and connectivity, Qualcomm and Commsignia to enhance cellular V2X (C-V2X) technology in a way that would alert Audi vehicles to cyclists. Meanwhile, companies like Streetlogic are using computer vision to roll out a direct-to-consumer collision warning device.
Autotalks has also previously come out with a similar technology for motorcycles and says the first company is about to launch a mass-production solution in 2024 in Europe.
"The main goal of ZooZ is to bring the bicycle market to the same awareness of the motorcycle market," said Haran. "Give the bicycle market a device to test the technology and be familiar with it. With the aid of ZooZ, the gap between launching V2X in bicycle market to motorcycle market will shrink."
While the goal is to fully integrate the tech behind the ZooZ2 into vehicles, for the purposes of testing, the device presents as a simple add-on, a strong LED light and buzzer that provides a simple alert to riders. Autotalks said ZooZ2, which operates in both dedicated short-range communication V2X and C-V2X, was successfully used to demonstrate the protection of vulnerable road users as part of the Safety Enhancement through Connected Users on the Road project.
Outside of the retail bike market, Haran said this kind of tech would also be beneficial for shared micromobility companies that have a responsibility to protect riders.