Tuesday, 08 June 2021 23:49

Telstra 5G connectivity making cycling safer


Telstra in partnership with Arenberg revealed an innovative 5G connected, AI-assisted cycling helmet aiming to improve the safety of cyclists.

Each year, 44 cyclists tragically die on Australia roads and unfortunately that is a number that will continue to rise unless more is done. Telstra hopes to tackle this important road safety issue with the development of a next generation, 5G-enabled cycling helmet packed with smart technology features that could improve the on-road safety of our cyclists, something cycling champion Anna Meares fully supports.

Cycling has seen an unprecedented surge in popularity in Australia, with more delivery services, commuters, and leisure riders on our roads than ever before. However, with this cycling boom has come a rise in the number of Australians injured or killed in bicycle crashes.

The 5G-connected helmet is the latest prototype in development by Telstra, in partnership with Australian cycling start-up Arenberg. The helmet showcases the amazing capabilities of 5G connectivity in improving the on-road safety of Australia’s cycling community and motor vehicle drivers alike.

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Telstra Labs innovation lead Todd Essery said “We have been working for some time on connected vehicle technologies (V2X) with some of the world’s largest car manufacturers. Our team wanted to see whether we could use the same technology for the first time to address the issue of road safety for the more vulnerable road users in Australia: cyclists.

“Telstra’s 5G network, which now covers more than two thirds of Australians, is crucial to this as the low latency means information can flow to and from the helmet extremely quickly which is important because milliseconds of delay can be the difference between safety and serious injury.”

Whilst the prototype is in its early development stage, it already comes with high endorsement from champion cyclist Anna Meares and Australia’s national cycling safety body, Aus Cycling.

Australian cycling champion Anna Meares said “A 5G-enabled cycling helmet could be a real win for Australia’s growing cycling community and road safety in general. While it is no surprise that I am a passionate rider, I still do worry about the safety of road riders including myself and my loved ones.

“Cyclists are amongst the most vulnerable users on our roads with far too many unnecessary and avoidable deaths. This kind of technology could not only help protect the safety of cyclists but also encourage more people to get out and cycle. It is really great to see how companies like Telstra are using their network to tackle this important issue for riders and all people on the road.”

AusCycling CEO Marne Fechner also commented, “Just one life lost on the roads is too many and this initiative by Telstra has the potential to save lives. We’re excited to see where this helmet can go as this prototype is already shaping up to be a gamechanger for the cycling community and anything that contributes to the safety of cyclists on Australian roads, we wholeheartedly endorse.”

How the technology works

The prototype is developed to leverage Telstra’s high-speed 5G network and low latency benefit to provide real time data to the helmet rider via several features, alerting riders of threats caused by common road accidents.

Components of the prototype connected bike helmet include features alerting the wearer:

  • Road alerts – Virtual Variable Message Sign (V-VMS): Road alerts such as road works, accidents, breakdown response, caution and congestion are audibly announced to the rider as they enter a section of the road affected.
  • V2X collision alerts: vehicle and vulnerable road users share real-time location/heading and receive collision alerts.
  • Video analytics – ride data: generates data about the ride by analysing the video of the ride. This data could be stored with the video or displayed in real-time alongside the video stream.
  • Video analytics – car door opening: cyclist receives early warning of possible car door opening alert based on video analytics processed in the cloud.
  • Video analytics alert: smart city Infrastructure: cyclists will share real-time location/heading to the V2X platform. Video analytics from street cameras pick up moving vehicles around corners and will send an alert to the cyclist via the platform. The platform will provide an alert if it determines there will be a collision.
  • Combine virtual and real bicycle ride: a rider at home on a training bicycle can share a ride with a person out on the road in real-time. The road rider’s helmet view is streamed to a TV in front of the training bicycle.

Arenberg co-founder Chris Flintoff said, “Covid-19 has grown our Cycling community but the risks for road riders remain the same. Our team were honoured to work with Telstra on the development of the Telstra Heads Up Helmet prototype. The capabilities of Telstra’s network has enabled us to connect our Road Helmet One – a bike helmet with an integrated camera – to the endless capabilities of 5G. Creating unlimited opportunities for cyclists, not just increased road safety but also entertainment and increased functionality."

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