Volvo introduces life-saving safety tech for cyclists

Alex Ingram
December 19, 2014

Pioneering safety tech co-developed by Volvo could make the roads a far safer place for cyclists

Anyone who has ever ventured out onto public roads on a bicycle is well aware that it can be a risky business. Of course, there are many steps that that drivers can take to try to avoid accidents, but the worst happens far too frequently.

Over 50 per cent of cyclists killed in European traffic accidents had collided with a car. With 132.3 million bicycles sold worldwide in 2013, the total number of injuries and fatalities will continue to rise unless steps are taken to reduce the risk.

For obvious reasons, road safety groups (and indeed, common sense) strongly advocate the use of a helmet if you venture out on two wheels. However, in the future, a cyclist’s helmet might also prevent accidents rather than simply mitigate them, thanks to new technology previewed by Volvo.

In collaboration with protective sports gear manufacturer POC and communications giant Ericsson, a collision warning system has been developed which electronically links driver and cyclist for the first time.

How does it work?

Through the use of a popular cycling/running app such as Strava (which records your distance, speed and route with the help of your smartphone’s GPS system) the cloud computing system aboard the new Volvo XC90 is able to determine the exact position of nearby riders, even if they are obscured from the driver’s view.

If the system calculates a collision is imminent, the driver will be warned via the car’s head-up display (HUD). The car will even automatically brake if it deems necessary.

The cleverness doesn’t stop there though. While a driver might not see a bike obscured by another car or hidden in their blind spot, on occasion a cyclist might be looking in another direction – for example when checking whether or not it is safe to pull out of a junction.  Because the system can communicate in both directions, at the same time the driver is alerted to a potential collision, a warning light flashes in the cyclist’s helmet (shown above).

The system is fitted as standard to the XC90 SUV, as part of the City Safety System, though prices for the helmets have not yet been announced. This is the first example of a car manufacturer taking steps towards offering connected technology which can prevent accidents with cyclists – like all safety systems it’ll eventually trickle through the rest of the motoring industry.