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The app that alarms motorbike accidents by itself

Thursday, March 12, 2020

A new motorcycle accident alerting system is currently being tested on Swedish roads. Thanks to an algorithm developed at Chalmers University of Technology, information from the sensors in the motorcyclist’s mobile phone can be used to identify that an accident has occurred and automatically call for help via SOS Alarm.

An ordinary smartphone can be used to detect traffic accidents. That is the simple but brilliant idea behind the Detecht app, which already has gained positive response from motorcyclists and SOS Alarm.

- Our starting point was to develop a function that is similar to eCall, which modern cars of today are equipped with, though instead directed to unprotected road users, says Bengt Arne Sjöqvist one of the originators of the algorithm. The advantage of a mobile app is that it is considerably easier to distribute to the users than a specially designed hardware would be – since a smartphone already is present in almost every person's pocket.

Motorcyclists are exposed and unprotected in traffic compared to most road users. Every year, around 250 drivers are seriously injured in Sweden, according to statistics from the Swedish Transport Agency. The trend is increasing – in 2018, 47 motorcyclists was killed, which is the highest rating in ten years.

- If a single vehicle accident occurs and the driver ends up unconscious in the ditch, it may take a long time before anyone notices what has happened, says Chalmers researcher Stefan Candefjord, being a biker himself, and also one of the originators of the algorithm that is now used by SOS Alarm in a pilot project.

Through an advantageous collaboration with Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship, the company Detecht Technologies AB was formed in 2018. The app has been successfully tested on Swedish roads during the motorcycle season of 2019. The crashes that have occurred have been detected correctly, and the alarm chain has worked according to plan. Additionally, the number of false alarms has been low. SOS Alarm has evaluated the function and decided to include the app in its regular alarm preparedness. 

- It is great that the tests show such positive results, and that the concept is proved to work all the way from motorcyclist to alarm, Stefan Candefjord continues. As far as I know, this is the first road safety app evaluated and implemented by SOS Alarm.

New features on its way
Work is in progress to integrate more features into the app. This may include such components as extended safety features showing advance information on potential hazards and accident prone roads, or to recommended routes based on the driver’s preferences.

Commercial interest is starting to increase as well. So far, more than 60 000 downloads of the app have been made, most of them in Sweden, but there is also a growing interest from the international market.

- Motorcyclists are particularly exposed in traffic, and they have a high demand for innovations that contribute to increased road traffic safety, says Stefan Candefjord. Other unprotected road users, such as cyclists, horse riders and all-terrain vehicle drivers, could also benefit from our technology.