The proliferation of driver assistance technology is helping save the lives of more and more car occupants. But no other automaker arguably has done as much to protect all road users as Volvo. The Swedish automaker offers pedestrian and cyclist detection on current production vehicles, and now it’s taking cyclist safety a set further with a prototype that allows a connected car and a connected bike helmet to communicate to avoid collisions.
The project is a collaboration between Volvo, protective sports gear manufacturer POC and Ericsson, and will be unveiled at CES in Las Vegas next week. The technology allows a Volvo connected car and the prototype helmet to establish two-way communication to offer proximity alerts to both drivers and cyclists to help avoid collisions.
According to Volvo, cycling is experiencing rapid growth worldwide, particularly in dense urban area. In Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, for example, the number of cyclists in the city increased 30 percent in 2013. Because of this, car-bike collisions are also on the rise along with fatalities.
Volvo also noted that serious injuries for cyclists in the U.K. were 31 percent higher in 2013 than in 2009, while in the U.S. 726 cyclists were killed in 2012, an increase in 6.5 percent compared to 2011. In Germany, The Netherlands and Poland more than 85 percent of cyclist fatalities occurred at crossroads, and in some countries pedestrians and cyclists constitute more than 75 percent of road deaths
Volvo’s City Safety system can already detect cyclists to warn the driver about their presence and also automatically brake to avoid a collision. The new prototype makes awareness and safety a two-way conversation by using a popular GPS smartphone app for bicyclists to share the cyclist’s position relative to the car, and vice versa.
If a collision appears imminent, both a driver and a cyclist can be warned in time to possibly avoid an accident. The Volvo driver is alerted that a cyclist is nearby via a head-up display, even if the cyclist is in a blind spot or can’t be easily seen in the dark. The cyclist is warned that a car is close through a helmet-mounted light.
“The partnership between Volvo, POC and Ericsson is an important milestone in investigating the next steps towards Volvo’s vision to build cars that will not crash,” Klas Bendrik, VP and group CIO at Volvo Cars, said in a statement. “But now, by exploring cloud-based safety systems, we are getting ever closer to eliminating the remaining blind spots between cars and cyclists and by that avoid collisions.”
As the population becomes more urbanized and city dwellers take to bicycles as an alternative form of transportation, bikes and cars will increasingly have to share crowded streets – and will inevitably come in contact. We applaud Volvo for thinking outside the car when it comes to safety for all road users and using technology to avoid more accidents and save more lives.