Swedish vehicle manufacturers and safety pioneers Volvo have launched a cyclist detection system for their production cars.
The technology uses information from a radar unit in the grille and a camera in front of the interior rear view mirror to constantly assess potential collisions. If an imminent impact is detected the driver is presented with a red warning flash and the car activates full braking power automatically.
The system adds to Volvo's pedestrian detection system, which also had a full auto brake trigger and was debuted in 2010. The technology is now intelligent enough to determine between nearby vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. The system doesn't guarantee that the vehicle will stop but it should be effective in reducing speeds in a collision, and in many cases should avoid an impact completely.
The benefits for cyclists will be limited, as the system functions in front of the bonnet – as a result, its 'field of vision' is restricted to this area only. The technology won't stop a car pulling out of a parking space on you but it could well prevent an accident at a junction, or stop a dangerous overtaking maneuver.
Of course, car drivers aren't always at fault in an accident, so the system could also defend against the actions of an inexperienced or unobservant cyclist.
The technology will be available in the V40, S60, V60, XC60, V70, XC70 and S80 from mid-May 2013. For more information see the Volvo website.
As Volvo themselves have shown in the past, it's important not to rely entirely on computer systems…