Copilot bike seat mount
The Copilot bike seat mount. Photo courtesy of

This is part of a series giving you an insider’s view of the products coming out of Pittsburgh to change the world. 

Pittsburgh is a great place for bicyclists because it has lots of bike trails, bike shops and biking organizations. But some riders skip the roadways because they don’t want to run the risk of being clipped by a car or truck.

Clark Haynes, founder and CEO of, decided to do something about it. A lifelong cyclist who often commuted to work on his bike, Haynes noticed that drivers had become more impatient during the pandemic and were driving more dangerously.  

So he invented a device that acts as a smart co-pilot in those dangerous situations where cars and bikes share the road. He even named it Copilot.

At its core, Copilot is a safety device for bicyclists that watches the road around you — particularly motor vehicles. Copilot is mounted beneath the bike seat looking backward, much like traditional reflectors.

When it detects a car (or other motor vehicle) approaching, it clicks into action, using artificial intelligence to determine how that car might affect the cyclist as it gets closer. If the car looks like it’s getting too close, the Copilot light gets brighter and flashes a pattern to make sure the driver notices the bike. It also emits a sound that warns both the driver and the cyclist that the car is getting too close.

How the Copilot cycling safety device works on the road.

For the initial release of Copilot, happening this year, Haynes set the volume of the alert sound at 90 decibels, not quite as loud as the 105 decibels from typical car horns, but loud enough to be heard in traffic by drivers and cyclists.

With a doctorate in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and six years at Uber developing state-of-the-art methods to predict how real-world road users interact with self-driving vehicles, Haynes is uniquely up to the challenge of helping cyclists with artificial intelligence, which is key to the way Copilot works.

In addition to lights and sound emitters, Copilot includes a small computer, cameras and an AI accelerator to provide what he calls situational awareness. He plans over-the-air updates to the software with new intelligence and new features. He also plans to release a mobile app to interact with Copilot.

Copilot collects data to create what Haynes sees as “risk estimators for the whole city. If enough bicyclists are traveling through an intersection, it shows elevated risk to share back with the communities.”

Photo courtesy of

The City of Pittsburgh’s interactive Crash Data Dashboard shows that there have been 184 crashes involving bicycles since 2018, including a fatality in each of the past three years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while bicyclists trips make up 1% of all of the trips in the U.S., they account for 2.4% of the fatalities for crashes that involve motor vehicles.

Haynes hopes that his device will not just affect the way cyclists ride; he hopes that Copilot will change the behavior of automobile drivers, causing them to pass with more clearance between bikes and vehicles. The stats that Copilot creates will help him understand whether this happens.

With a $350 initial price, Haynes expects the most likely people to purchase Copilot are cyclists in cities who ride the streets often alongside cars.  

If you ride frequently in Pittsburgh, you’re a candidate.

Know of a product or service being developed in Pittsburgh or by a Pittsburgh-based company that is cool, is creating growth, or will change the world? Let David know via email.

David Radin is CEO of Confirmed ( For decades, he has been leveraging technology and techniques to transform the way his audiences and clients succeed.