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Peddling life-saving ideas

Nov. 12, 2019

Design Day teams collaborate with MSU Bikes to detect oncoming vehicles and improve safety

Tim Potter saw a problem and wanted to be part of a solution.

Associate Professor Daniel Morris, Scott Bingham ('19), Tim Potter and Stephen Blosser show off the bicycle technology created by Bingham's Design Day team.
Associate Professor Daniel Morris, Scott Bingham ('19), Tim Potter and Stephen Blosser show off the bicycle technology created by Bingham's Design Day team.

“More and more bikes are on roads not designed for shared use, and an increasing number of drivers are distracted by smartphones and other interferences,” said Potter, MSU Bikes sustainable transportation manager and avid cyclist.

From 2013 to 2017, 3,958 cyclists died in the U.S. alone; 98 percent were the result of collisions with motor vehicles.

Potter’s passion for biking safety sees him active in local, state and national associations including membership on the Board of the Ride of Silence, an organization created to honor those injured or killed in cycling accidents.

“The incidence of rear collisions by vehicles has been steadily rising, year after year,” Potter said.

Potter shared his concerns with Stephen Blosser, Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities adviser specialist, knowing that Blosser had extensive experience with technology designed to help the blind and might have some insight into improving cyclists’ awareness of their surroundings. Blosser suggested a device that could detect oncoming vehicles and give the cyclist and driver enough warning to take evasive action might be a possibility.

“We approached faculty advisers from the College of Engineering’s Design Day team and convinced them that our project might be perfect for one of the student teams to tackle,” Potter said. “It was assigned to an Electrical and Computer Engineering team Fall 2018, and due to its potential to save lives, was assigned to another team Spring 2019.”

The next Design Day is Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. Find out more: Design Day.

Potter routinely meets with the student teams, sharing valuable knowledge about what cyclists encounter and what type of warning system would be most beneficial.

“The student teams initially created a radar-based device that successfully detected automobiles approaching a cyclist and are continuing the project Fall 2019 using simpler and cheaper sound pattern detection-based technology,” Potter said.

He added, “working with the student teams has really opened my eyes to just how daunting it can be to develop new technologies, and has given me a greater appreciation for just how hard these teams work and their passion for what they do.”

Watch the testing of the device on YouTube.

Story courtesy of Infrastructure Planning and Facilities.

MSU Bikes Sustainable Transportation Manager Tim Potter is teaming up with College of Engineering Design Day teams to improve biking safety at MSU.
MSU Bikes Sustainable Transportation Manager Tim Potter is teaming up with College of Engineering Design Day teams to improve biking safety at MSU.