VUB research saves lives on the road through innovative blind spot sensors

VUB research saves lives on the road through innovative blind spot sensors

The number of fatal traffic accidents involving vulnerable road users in Flanders grew by 10% in 2023 from the previous year. The total of 136 victims is a record, and includes a growing number of accidents related to lorries’ blind spots. Safer vehicles are crucial if this alarming tide is to be turned. To tackle the challenge, eXia, a spin-off of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), and imec have developed the Active Sideguard blind spot sensor for lorries, the world’s first warning system to use low-frequency electric fields.

The Active Sideguard sensors are the result of more than 15 years of research at the VUB.

“The ground-breaking technology behind the sensors uses extremely weak low frequency electric fields to detect vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, scooter riders and pedestrians, in the blind spot of lorries,” says Bart Truyen, VUB researcher and managing director of eXia. “Unlike existing radar sensors, Active Sideguard sensors are distinguished by an advanced spatial detection process that extends to road level for unmatched detection of all vulnerable road users."


“Furthermore, we noticed during our research that the performance of most available blind spot sensors was heavily influenced by external factors. In adverse conditions, such as rain and snow, vulnerable road users were less reliably detected, while the lorry driver was bothered by false alarms. These sensors are also less suitable for rougher transport situations. Active Sideguard sensors, on the other hand, are weather resistant and robust, and continue to function reliably on all freight vehicles in all situations, and so help to guarantee the safety of vulnerable road users. We are literally saving lives with our research.”

The research was co-financed by the Flemish government, which contributed €420,000.

“This new generation of blind spot sensors closely aligns with the updated European Vehicle General Safety Regulation, which recognises and addresses the issue of blind spots,” says Flemish minister for Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters. “Freight and other professional traffic is heavily involved in fatal road accidents. As well as major efforts in terms of safe road infrastructure and awareness campaigns, there must be a focus on safer vehicles and continuous education to make drivers aware of these vehicles and their new technology. It’s important that there is investment in research into the protection of all road users, particularly the most vulnerable. Initiatives such as Active Sideguard are also crucial and illustrate the power of cooperation between academic institutions, industry and the government.”

More information about Active Sideguard can be found on the eXia website.

Bart Truyen
​0475 57 08 67

About Press - Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. By providing excellent research and education on a human scale, VUB wants to make an active and committed contribution to a better society.

The World Needs You

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig – The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People, because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership, VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré, the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ‘urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.


Press - Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussel