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Netherlands government launches ‘intelligent bicycle’

Electric prototype features radar, cameras and a vibrating seat

The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) has produced a prototype ‘intelligent’ electric bicycle for the government. Fitted with an array of electronic devices, the aim is to help bring down the high accident rate among elderly cyclists.

If the most striking gizmo is the vibrating warning system installed in the saddle, then this is only of use when combined with the forward-looking radar mounted below the handlebars and a camera in the rear mudguard.

“Accidents often happen when cyclists look behind them or get a fright when they are passed at high speed,” explained Maurice Kwakkernaat, one of TNO’s research scientists.

If there is an obstacle in front of you, the handlebars vibrate, while if another cyclist or vehicle approaches from behind, the seat vibrates. There is also an option to mount a tablet computer for a visual notification of nearby dangers.

Last year, according to the Netherlands’ Central Statistics Office, 184 cyclists died with 124 of those older than 65. Dutch Environment and Infrastructure Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen said that the bike would therefore be particularly beneficial for the elderly.

“More and more elderly people are using a bicycle, not only for short distances, but also for longer distances. This type of bicycle is truly needed in the Netherlands because it will help us down bring the number of elderly people who are injured every year and allow them to continue enjoy cycling.”

The prototype weighs 25kg and so researchers are working on reducing the size of the on-board systems. The Guardian reports that a commercial-available version could be on the market in the next couple of years with a price tag of between 1,700 euros and 3,200 euros (£1,350 to £2,500).

This wouldn’t be the first vibrating saddle, however. We’ve previously reported on the Happy Ride vibrating seat cover. In this particular instance, your happiness derives not from the evasion of hazards but from something else entirely.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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