Volvo Car Group is aiming to make the road safer for bicycle riders.
Building on the pedestrian detection system it has offered since 2010, the Swedish automaker on Tuesday introduced the world’s first bicyclist detection system for autos at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.
The new “Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with full auto brake” system sees when a cyclist ahead swerves into the auto’s path and instantly determines whether a collision is imminent. Then if necessary, it will immediately warn the driver and automatically apply the brakes with full force to avoid the collision, or at least lower the speed at which the cyclist may be hit.
But the new bicyclist detection system has one great weakness that is sure to limit its usefulness in big cities like New York and other places where bicycle riders commonly misbehave: It won’t react to bicyclists riding against traffic.
There’s no new hardware needed in a vehicle to make the cyclist detection system work. It shares the same equipment already installed in Volvos equipped with the current pedestrian detection system: a dual-mode radar mounted on the vehicle’s front grille; a high-resolution camera mounted to the windshield in front of the interior rear-view mirror; and a central control unit. The radar senses objects in front of the vehicle and determines the distances to them. The camera determines the types of the objects and lets the vehicle see patterns in their movement. Both feed all of this information to the central control unit, which runs advanced software that continuously monitors and evaluates the input and decides whether the vehicle should intervene. Auto-braking is never applied unless both the radar and the camera detect the object ahead.
The major changes that enable cyclist detection are in the advanced software, Volvo said, explaining that it’s now capable of more rapid vision processing.
Volvo will roll out the new technology quickly this year, adding cyclist detection to all model-year 2014 vehicles equipped with pedestrian detection, the automaker said. In the U.S., these include the Volvo S60, XC60, XC70 and S80, which also have been redesigned for MY2014 and are expected to arrive at dealerships this summer.