Hillel's Tech Corner: Ride Vision: Making motorcycles safer

In addition to visual warnings, Ride Vision also integrates with Bluetooth helmets to give audio warnings.

Ride Vision. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ride Vision.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
This week was a big week for Israeli tech. Jon Medved and the OurCrowd team put together their annual OurCrowd Summit, and it was superb, both from a production perspective and in terms of the tech on display. I was fortunate for the second year in a row to play an active role, and this year I moderated the “Demo Theater.”
You might be wondering why I am telling you this. Well, because one of the companies I introduced at the session was Ride Vision, a company with cutting-edge technology that enables safer driving of motorcycles and motorized bikes of all kinds.
Ride Vision has developed a collision aversion technology, or CAT, for motorbikes. CAT is a fusion of artificial intelligence (neural networks) and computer vision designed to seamlessly integrate with the motorcycles, utilizing only standard cameras as visual sensors. The technology recognizes and analyzes only relevant threats without the need for expensive hardware and without disturbing the rider’s critical focus. The footage analysis is built to use any sensors available on a motorcycle, significantly reducing production costs and providing freedom of modularity to manufacturers.
Not to get too personal here, but I just bought a new car, and safety was of course one of my biggest concerns. I went with a Volvo XC60 and I am loving it. One of the most impressive features in the Volvo is the semi-autonomous driving. I drove from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv the other day without touching the gas pedal or brakes, and without the need to steer. Since the Volvo is not fully autonomous, I do need to keep my hands on the steering wheel, but not much more than that.
With the revolution of autonomous driving, safety is of course being addressed by all the manufacturers, however, there is one piece of the puzzle that has been left out. Even if all the cars on the road are driving themselves and you are able to remove human error from the equation, if there are motorcycles on the road that are driving recklessly, well, what have we accomplished?
Ride Vision, if I am oversimplifying, is Mobileye for motorcycles. Of course, when I said that on stage, the CEO humorously corrected me that “Mobileye is Ride Vision for cars.”
Jokes aside, I don’t think anyone who drives regularly needs to be reminded of the dangers of motorcycles. Just to put it in numbers, according to a 2018 US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report, fatalities in traffic crashes occur nearly 28 times more frequently for motorcycles than for passenger cars, and motorcycle drivers comprise 17% of all driver- and passenger-related fatalities. There were 5,286 fatal motorcycle crashes in 2016 in the US, a 5.1% increase from 2015, according to the NHTSA.
WHEN IT comes to automobiles, specifically ones that drive autonomously, they all have ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems), but that technology is both expensive and impractical for motorcycles. Ride Vision’s goal is to use off-the-shelf cameras to offer an ADAS-like experience, but one that is optimized for the motorcycle.
Ride Vision sets up two small cameras (no larger than 2.5 × 2.5 cm each) that are then mounted on the front and back of the motorcycle. The cameras offer wide angle lenses that when combined provide nearly 360-degree vision. Depending on the specific threat or hazard, the motorcycle’s left and right side mirrors have LED lights that flash in different colors. These lights are kept in place with a simple plastic extension.
In addition to visual warnings, Ride Vision also integrates with Bluetooth helmets to give audio warnings. Bluetooth helmets are becoming quite popular, since they let motorcycle drivers use their mobile phones wirelessly and hands-free.
Finally, not only does Ride Vision use cameras to warn about upcoming dangers, it also records and documents the footage, which can later be used in case of an accident. The Ride Vision system, which requires very low energy, takes the charge from the motorcycle’s battery, which helps it save space and makes it more manageable.
Ride Vision’s algorithms analyze a motorcycle driver’s behavior in real time, and the behavior of drivers in the cars around it, to predict when an accident might be imminent. Threats are detected in one-tenth of a second.
Ride Vision was founded by Uri Lavi and Lior Cohen, both of whom are motorcycle riders themselves. The two founders have worked together in the past on a company called PicScout. Before that they worked together in Israel’s homeland security industry.
PicScout was acquired in 2011 by Getty Images for $20 million.
Ride Vision is based in Herzliya, has 10 employees, and has its eyes set on global expansion, with a specific focus on Asian markets. There are more two-wheelers per capita in countries like India and China than there are in North America. Accidents involving two-wheelers can impact approximately 2-3% of a country’s total GDP when fixed costs from the accidents and ongoing medical treatments are factored in.
At the end 2019, Ride Vision announced a partnership with Sara Assicurazioni to reduce motorcycle accidents in Italy and to improve Italy’s overall road safety.
The company has raised over $5 million from investors that include YL Ventures, Metagal and OurCrowd. It is focused on expanding to global markets to save as many lives as possible. The product has been tested in multiple countries to date including India, Japan, Italy, Israel, Brazil and others. The final product is expected to ship during the second half of 2020.
Not to throw anyone under the bus here, but driving on Israeli roads is the best marketing for Ride Vision, because any time spent on the road here makes it crystal clear how badly we need this tech, and fast!