Photo screenshot from Volvo YouTube video
Volvo has recently announced new sensor technology that automatically applies the brakes if a cyclist obstructs the path of the car.
From the YouTube video:
All of Volvo’s new cars sold from May will include the sensors, which initially warn drivers with a row of red lights that flash up on the windscreen. The new cyclist detector system comprises a radar scanner set into the car’s grille, a camera fitted in front of the rear-view mirror, and a computerised central control unit.
The video of course makes drivers out to be extremely cautious, and makes cyclists out to be inattentive renegades. But we all know that car commercials never reflect reality, and this technology will actually make up for inattentive and distracted drivers more-so than the other way around.
In the past, car safety technology has largely been focused on the person inside the car. With an increasing awareness of the killing and maiming that cars are inflicting on people outside the car, and with stiff competition in the car industry, companies are now looking at technologies that help keep people outside the car safe.
A month ago, we wrote about external airbags on cars, a technology that is currently being tested by a Dutch company. Although we welcome any features that can help keep bicyclists safe, external airbags are by no means a preventative safety measure. They assume a crash will happen and they try to reduce the impact of that crash.
The Volvo sensor technology – if proven to actually be effective – auto applies the brakes to avoid crashing into a bicyclist and can help prevent collisions from occurring in the first place.
We still strongly encourage cities to implement traffic calming measures, increase traffic enforcement/education and improve bike infrastructure, but it is nice to know that there may be automobile technology that can help mitigate user error and save lives.
Thanks to Richard at Cyclelicious for bringing this technology to our attention.
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- Why Not Aim For Zero Deaths? (Dec 2010)
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- Enough Excuses: Cars Cause Death (Dec 2010)