About half of all cyclists killed in European traffic die from collisions with a car, and Volvo’s new Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection technology promises to lower that figure. The system consists of a radar unit that’s built into the car’s grille, and a camera situated in front of the interior rear-view mirror. The radar’s job is to detect objects in front of the car and to determine how far away they are, while the camera system is tasked with identifying what those objects are.
A cyclist swerving out in front of a moving car is one of the scenarios that the system can help protect against. A sensor system scans the road in front of the car, and if it detects a cyclist traveling in the same direction as the car swerving in front of it, the brakes will be applied.
As a daily bicycle commuter of many years, I know how all too well how dangerous it can be out on the roads, with most auto drivers more annoyed by cyclists than they are interested in sharing the road.
Yes, there’s more that bicycle riders can do in terms of safety: using hand signals, using ample lights at night, following the rules of the road, etc. But, it doesn’t take an engineer to see that, simply in terms of mass and speed, bicycles will always lose in a collision with a car. Therefore, bicycles have a baseline disadvantage on the road, and I believe this justifies asking car manufacturers and car drivers to take the lead in considering the safety of cyclists.