Being an alternative to polluting transport and an opportunity to practise a sporting activity that is beneficial to health, the cycling craze is spreading and growing, driven by a boom in EABs, electric-assisted bicycles.
Although they account for only 5% of road deaths, cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users. While their heads are protected by helmets, the other most exposed parts of the body - in particular the chest, which accounts for 40% of serious injuries - were previously unprotected.
Faced with these obvious safety concerns, French company Helite, which specialises in non-automotive airbag technologies, has decided to launch B'Safe, the first airbag vest for cyclists which protects them in the event of a fall or accident.
A 100% autonomous and smart safety vest for urban cyclists
Much like the model designed for motorcyclists, the system uses a set of sensors that detect shocks and analyse the cyclist's movements in real time. The rider activates his vest when he gets on his bike. This triggers two sensors that communicate with each other via wireless connectivity: the first is located on the vest, the second is attached to the saddle. They will detect unusual shocks and movements that are synonymous with an accident or a fall. The invisible cushions built into the vest will inflate in 80 milliseconds to provide optimal protection before impact and absorb up to 90% of the shock when the rider hits the ground.
“We have a vest that contains two airbags," explained Gérard Thevenot, founder of Helite. In the event of an accident, the airbags inflate automatically to protect the spine and the frontal area - thorax, abdomen and neck”.
An innovation made in France
The vest is made of a polyester fabric and looks like a classic cycling vest. Equipped with reflective stripes that make it highly visible at night, it is available in black or yellow. It is waterproofed using a polyurethane film. Of course, the Helite B'Safe vest is re-usable, only the CO2 cartridge used to inflate the cushions needs to be replaced after each activation.
Available in France since July and in the rest of Europe since September, the B'Safe vest was the recipient of the 2019 Road Safety Innovation Award in France. It was previously the recipient of the Innovation Prize at the 2019 CES in Las Vegas.