Seer™ is a ready-to-use augmented system to help motorists and cyclists share increasingly congested urban streets more safely. In most cities, road capacity has not changed materially for the better part of a century. For much of that time, cars, trucks, buses, pedestrians and, to a lesser extent, bicycles shared urban streets with some success. Over the past decade, however, new transportation alternatives have emerged that increased street congestion and boosted the risks for everyone using our streets. Examples include ride-sharing services and light vehicles such as bikes, e-bikes, and scooters. Seer is focused on bicycle safety, initially focusing on greater Cambridge with a view toward addressing the challenge in all urban areas.
The current version of Seer is a communication system designed to reduce risk during a major transition phase of urban transportation. Eventually, sensor- rich, autonomous vehicles will likely be the norm. Automated vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian communications should make using urban streets safer. For the foreseeable future, however, risks will continue to rise. By enabling cyclists to communicate their intentions automatically using lasers, the tool will efficiently establish safety zones with cars, other vehicles, and pedestrians.
After exploring different alternatives—for example, helmet signaling and bicycle-to-car signaling—the initial product uses twin laser beams to highlight a safe buffer separating bicycles and cars as well as pedestrians. The width of the buffer expands to reflect greater risks associated with turning. The project includes functional prototyping, user testing, plans for system implementation, and some speculation about future opportunities.