Next generation bicycle helmet cam delivers 360-degree aerial footage

A new type of spherical digital camera that produces aerial 360-degree pictures heralds a new generation of bicycle helmet cameras, according to the Environmental Transport Association (ETA).

Helmet cams are used by an increasing number of cyclists so they can rely on video evidence in the event of a road traffic collision. The flaw with conventional cameras is that they offer only a view of the road ahead.

When the panoramic ball cam is thrown into the air, it senses when it has reached its highest point and simultaneously triggers the 36 digital cameras mounted within its rubber exterior. Once downloaded to a computer, the 36 images are stitched together into a high-resolution 360-degree panorama.

‘Eye in the sky’ for cyclists

It is notoriously difficult for cyclists to prove a motorist is at fault in the case of a collision. A no-win, no-fee cyclist legal service can be a highly effective way to secure compensation, but an overhead panoramic view of a road traffic collision would prove invaluable in most cases.

The technology developed by engineers Jonas Pfeil, Kristian Hildebrand, Carsten Gremzow, Bernd Bickel and Marc Alexa for the panoramic ball cam could feasibly be incorporated into the shell of a cycle helmet. In the event of a cyclist being struck by a car, another option would be for the ball cam to fired into the air like a mortar shell thereby capturing an overhead panorama of the scene at the precise moment of impact.

“a fair crack at justice”

Road safety campaigners in Britain have long campaigned for no-fault liability, a principle that makes motorists financially liable for collisions with pedestrians or cyclists. Only when the pedestrian or cyclist was proved to be negligent would the driver avoid paying compensation through their insurance. Such a system currently works without problem in other areas of Europe because it recognises that the drivers of faster, heavier vehicles have a duty of care and that if a pedestrian or cyclist is injured in a road traffic collision it can be difficult for them to accurately recollect the event.

A spokesperson for the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) said: “Cyclists will increasingly rely on technology to ensure they get a fair crack at justice following a road traffic collision. At present, things are often stacked in the motorist’s favour.”

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