Look ma, no brakes.
But slow down anyway!
California startup Vectolabs has developed a new type of safety light for motorcycles that illuminates when the bike slows down, regardless of whether or not the rider is using the brakes.
Called Vololights, the device is comprised of two sets of LEDs built into a license plate holder that’s fitted with an accelerometer and CPU. When it senses that the motorcycle it is installed on starts slowing down, a pattern of blinking lights goes off to get the attention of following vehicles.
Since motorcycles decelerate much quicker than four-wheel vehicles when you let up on the accelerator or downshift, many riders don’t use the brakes to slow down as often as car and truck drivers do. Doing either of these things will cause the Vololights to flash twice per second, while using the brakes will flash them five times per second to indicate a more severe stopping event, augmenting the motorcycle’s stock lights.
Many motorcycle organizations and state departments of motor vehicles already encourage riders to flash their brakes when slowing, a step Vectolabs is simply looking to automate. It is also aimed at owners of some classic bikes, including 1960s Vespa scooters where the hand grip for the front brakes isn’t even connected to the lights, only the brake pedal is.
A number of electric cars, including the Tesla Model S, illuminate their brake lights as soon as you lift off of the accelerator, as their electric motors instantly start generating electricity and forcibly slow the car down in the process. Even more so than with motorcycles, you can drive these kinds of cars much of the time without using the brakes at all.
Vectolabs says Vololights fits a variety of motorcycles and is confident that it will conform to state and federal legal requirements for lighting, but will recommend users check their local laws. A ‘stealth mode’ turns off the system if you drive somewhere they are not allowed.
But don’t mount up and head to the motorcycle shop just yet. Vectolabs is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign that aims to raise $50,000 by June 12th in order to put the Vololights into production. A number of pledge levels are available, but it’ll cost you at least $69 if you want to get on the list for a kit.
In the meantime, watch out behind you.