Leave it to the Swedes to break new ground when it comes to inventing auto safety. And now their engineering and passion for safety has come to benefit us cyclists with their cyclist collision avoidance system.
What is it?
It is a system of cameras, radar, computers and software that work together to stop the car from hitting a cyclist. The cameras and radar allow the car computer to see cyclists and pedestrians on the road and identify them. They are tracked and if their trajectory and your car’s direction will result in a collision, then it will intervene.
“…the car will automatically brake and stop itself to avoid hitting the cyclist.”
As shown in the video, the computer detected that a collision will occur as the cyclist went directly into the path of the automobile. The driver is given the chance to slow down or stop but if the computer detects no brake input from the driver, it will decide to intervene at the last possible second. Knowing how quick the car can stop and given the speed of the car and the cyclist, the car will automatically brake and stop itself to avoid hitting the cyclist. This is the true asset of the Collision Avoidance System.
A similar system is now in place in many vehicles in the form of avoiding collision with other cars. Mtbr and Carreview have driven many of these systems and they actually work. Yes, we put our lives on the line as we went into stopped traffic at 60 mph and never touched the brake. The cars knows and it stops well. Some systems are better than others and the systems this year work better than the ones three years ago. On one test, we used a Mercedes S-Class to drive on stop and go traffic from on Highway 101 from San Jose to Redwood City. We never touched the brake and we arrived at work safely as the car took care of accelerating too. The gap between us and the car ahead of us was adjustable but it was always a couple more car lengths than the normal flow of traffic.
Blind Spot Monitoring is another invention introduced by Volvo and it really works. If you put on your turn signal and change lanes but there is a car in your blind spot, the car will let you know by lights, beeps and a tug at the steering wheel. Five years ago, it was a little rough and obtrusive on our test Volvo. But today, it is in 8 out of 10 cars we recently tested from other brands. And they work!
So why is this significant?
Well for one thing, it is Volvo that is introducing it. And whatever the Volvo does in the world of car safety, the rest of the auto world follows. They are pretty much responsible for the lion’s share of all safety improvements in cars. Other automakers notice and consumers look for their innovations when making purchasing decisions.
Is there a need for this?
Heck yes. Riding on the road in the crowded areas of the United States is a high risk proposition. And the number one reason cyclists get hit by autos is because they were not seen by the driver. This technology will certainly benefit cyclists as it gets adopted by more automakers.
A great thing about computers, cameras and radar is they never have a bad day or get distracted. These systems will work consistently all day, every time. And a bonus is they can see in the dark, in the fog and in the shadows of trees. The driver can turn off all these aids of course but if they work well, they will be left on.