Whether you are ordering shoes or books for the next day – online shopping has become part of our lives. Delivery of packages produced a great deal of CO2 and jammed roads and traffic chaos make the work of delivery drivers more difficult. Researchers in Bremen and Oldenburg want to therefore promote the use of couriers who travel with environmentally friendly cargo bikes. “SmartHelm” (smart helmet) is the name of the project, in which the University of Bremen is also involved. The seven partners are developing an intelligent bicycle helmet together.
The helmet is intended to support couriers in their work and protect them against dangerous situations on the road. “We hope that we can gain new insights into the daily stress situations of bicycle couriers,” explains Dr. Dennis Küster from the Cognitive Systems Lab (CSL) working group within the Faculty of Mathematics/Computer Science at the University of Bremen. Smartphones play a significant role in the work of cargo bicycle couriers: Phones are always being used – whether this be as a navigational system or for communicating with clients if there is a problem with the delivery, for example. However, it can quickly be the case that the devices distract the riders from the roads and that accidents happen.
Use of Augmented Reality Glasses
In the frame of the project, for which the Ministry of Transport is providing 1.5 million euros, the scientists are currently addressing the question of how, for example, the concentration of couriers is controlled and strained whilst they are working. In order to collect this data, the couriers wear a helmet with special integrated sensors and an eye movement camera. They use a so-called eye-tracker, which is a camera that follows the line of vision of the riders. Additionally, sensors that measure the brain activity of the bicycle couriers are also applied. As an example, if the attention paid to the traffic increases when the courier rides over a lively intersection, the researchers hope that they will be able to measure these changes. The couriers also receive delivery and traffic information via augmented reality glasses (AR glasses). The glasses should fade in the information so that they are distracted to the lowest possible level whilst riding their bikes. Thus, the often-dangerous glances at their phones should no longer be needed.
First Prototypes Are Being Developed
The project is scheduled as having a duration of three years. During this time, several prototypes, which will be tested by bicycle couriers and then be further developed, will be created in several phases. The researchers at the University of Bremen are pleased that they are a part of the project. “It offers us the opportunity to deepen our findings from foundation research within a particularly interesting field of application,” says Küster.
Partners of the „SmartHelm“ project
Website of the the CSL working group at the University of Bremen