ilumaware shield tl bicycle tail light reflects automobile crash avoidance radar so the car will not hit a cyclist

We first spotted the Ilumaware passive radar booster a couple years ago in early prototype form. The device is devilishly simple in that its angles reflect automobiles’ crash avoidance radar waves in such a way as to amplify your perceived size. In other words, the car sees you as another car, making it far more responsive to you and stopping in time if the driver is texting or otherwise distracted.

Now, the Ilumaware Shield TL is ready for prime time, launching on Kickstarter with an integrated blinky light…

The Shield TL has been tested extensively, just check their Kickstarter campaign for a crash course in radar and automotive technologies…it’s deep. They even purchased their own Forward Looking Radar Device, the same kind used on modern vehicles, and found that a cyclist with the device became visible to the vehicle at 198m. With the naked eye? Less than 75m. So, the device more than doubled the distance at which the automobile became aware of the cyclist compared to what the driver could actually see.

ilumaware-shield-tl-radar-signal-volume-of-vehicles

The chart above shows the typical “volume” of the signal a radar receives back from various vehicles. The problem with smaller objects is that they don’t reflect much, which typically tells the radar that the road ahead is clear. The Shield TL tests showed that it increased the “noise” made by a bicycle by 5+ decibels, making it very visible to the car. In 2016, more than 470 vehicle models were equipped with CAS (Collision Avoidance System) front radars.

ilumaware shield tl bicycle tail light reflects automobile crash avoidance radar so the car will not hit a cyclist

The light is powered by a USB-rechargable battery and pumps out 80 lumens of light in a blinky pattern (76 hours) or solid (25 hours). It’s visible 180º. The Kickstarter campaign lets you grab one for $20 off eventual retail, starting at $69 plus shipping. Multi packs are also available.

Ilumaware.com

9 COMMENTS

  1. It seems odd that there is not a way to have direct communication between cars and bikes. Obviously the current system works to avoid pedestrians and inanimate obstructions, but it doesn’t seem like a huge technological challenge – especially given that we have a lot of broadcasting electronics on the bike already. The idea of enhancing your presence to a passive system seems like a half-step.

  2. Don’t get a false sense of security. Only a small portion of new cars have this technology and in those offerings, it is also an option. So most every car, truck and SUV more than a year or two old doesn’t have this feature. Also, we need another smart bicycle light launched on Kickstarter. (Sarcasm)

      • Yeah, this kind of technology is found elsewhere all the time. I can’t believe it’s only now getting implemented in this way. I can’t wait until there’s some sort of standard between all auto makers, and the makers of bike computers & lights, watches, etc., which will literally stop a car before it collides with the chip.

    • Equally small is the number of cyclists who have resolved to take an active approach to signaling their presence on the road while they ride. Any gadget that convinces a rider that it’s a good idea to use a bright light in the daytime is worthwhile.

  3. This technology is commonly used by sailboats, kayaks, balloonists, etc. The shape of it is the same as each cell on a plastic light reflector but metallic much bigger because the waves are longer.

    • Yup, it’s called a corner cube. Within a pretty wide range of angles of incidence, it will return an incident beam to the source of the beam.

  4. I have extensive experience using these radar reflectors from a past life as a submarine officer. If they’re anything like the ones we had, orientation and positioning matters immensely as to how effectively they work. The ones we had were incredibly finicky. When they worked, they were great. When they didn’t, you’d never know since unlike a light you can’t stand away from it and look to see if it’s reflecting.

    All in all, I could get behind these getting installed in the DOT-compliant reflectors that ship with bikes. But I wouldn’t count on these replacing a driver actually giving a damn and looking out for cyclists.

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