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Safety

The relationship between cyclists and motorists can be a tense, frankly unpleasant aspect of the morning commute, but a new invention by Seattle-based company Artefact (or more specifically its incubation program, Startefact) is aiming to patch things up and hopefully save some lives in the process. BrakePack is an LED-fitted smart backpack designed to make cyclists more visible to motorists, while signalling their intentions.

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If there are a lot of good ol' boys where you live, then you're likely familiar with Truck Nuts – rubber testicles that are hung from a pickup truck's trailer hitch. Well, a couple of Toronto-based designers have come up with something similar for bicycles. Known as Bike Balls, they actually serve as a tail light that catches motorists' attention by swinging merrily back and forth.

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Chris Urmson, director of the Google Self-Driving Car program, has published a post in which he admits that the small fleet (20+) of Google autonomous cars has been involved in 11 accidents over the almost 1.7 million miles (2.7 million km) the cars have traveled in the six years the vehicles have been on the road. However, Urmson was adamant that “not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident” and revealed some of the lessons learned over the journey so far.

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Bicycle commuters who regularly ride at night would no doubt appreciate having lights that could be left on their bike all the time, with little chance of them getting stolen. That's why Fortified Bicycle Alliance first introduced its Defender headlight, which can only be removed using a specialized tool. Putting out just 50 lumens, though, it's certainly more of a "be seen" than a "see the road" light. That's why Fortified more recently introduced its considerably brighter Aviator headlight and Afterburner tail light. We gave them a try, to see how they stand up to real-world use.

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BMW Motorrad and Alpinestars have just launched an exclusive partnership to develop airbag safety clothing. The first product from the pairing will be a motorcycle jacket equipped with an airbag waistcoat based on Alpinestars' Tech-Air airbag technology.

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SpaceX has carried out a successful test of its Launch Abort System (LAS) for the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The test, which took place at Space Launch Complex 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station represents a major stop towards getting the spacecraft human rated under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract. NASA hopes that commercial spacecraft such as the Crew Dragon will return manned spacecraft launches back to American soil sometime in 2017.

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Feeling safe is important. Whether it's just walking down the street or hiking up a mountain, knowing that one can get in touch with help if needed affords a great deal of security. That's the kind of nonviolent personal security the team at Revolar is aiming to bring to market with its discreet device that lets users reach out for help with the touch of a button.

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Flying a drone can be a nerve-racking experience. No matter how careful you are, there's always a chance that your several-hundred-dollar aircraft could lose a prop, lose power, or otherwise get messed up and come plummeting to the ground. That's why Nashville-based videographer and drone enthusiast Michael Pick developed SmartChutes. Read More
There are already in-vehicle systems that keep people from driving while intoxicated, although most of them require users to blow into a breathalyzer. The prototype AlcoStop system, however, takes a less intrusive approach – it measures users' blood alcohol levels by analyzing their sweat via built-in sensors, and won't allow the car to start if those levels indicate that they're too drunk to drive. Read More
We keep hearing about systems designed to either alert drivers to impending collisions, to let them know that they've made a mistake (such as drifting out of their lane), or to tell them that they're getting tired. Brain4Cars, however, takes yet another approach. Created by scientists at Cornell and Stanford universities, it monitors drivers to determine when they're about to do something wrong, so it can warn them not to. Read More
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