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Volvo Car Group, long-known for its safe automobiles, has introduced a feature in its new vehicles that should be welcomed by cyclists.
The auto manufacturer has included a two-part cyclist and pedestrian detection system that, when it senses a cyclist has veered in front of the vehicle, will automatically apply the car’s brakes.
According to a press release issued by the company, the detection system will be available in its S60, XC60, XC70 and S80 models in 2013, although not all of these will be available in the United States.
According to the release, the system “consists of a radar unit integrated into the car’s grille, a camera fitted in front of the interior rear-view mirror, and a central control unit. The high-resolution camera makes it possible to spot the moving pattern of pedestrians and cyclists. The radar scans the area in front of the car. Once it has detected an object, the camera confirms that it is a vehicle, a bicycle or a pedestrian and it keeps an ‘eye’ on the object. If the situation becomes critical and in collision-course with the object a red warning flashes in the windscreen and the car activates full braking power automatically.”
“This is the most extensive development of existing models in our company's history,” Doug Speck, Volvo Car Group’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Customer Service, said in the release. “Each of the enhancements is designed around our customers' needs. We have focused on quality and attention to detail in order to give these models a major boost and sharpen their competitiveness.”
It appears Volvo’s decision to include the detection system in some of its cars comes at a good time.
In 2011, 675 cyclists were killed in collisions with cars in the United States, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation and reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
That figure represents a 10 percent increase from 2010, according to the statistics. While bicycle deaths are down 33 percent since 1975, and bicycle deaths among riders aged 20 and younger have decreased 87 percent since 1975, the figures show that deaths among cyclists older than 20 have increased 187 percent.
The figures also show that bicycle deaths in 2011 were most likely to occur between 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., underscoring the need for additional help for drivers in “seeing” cyclists in dusk light or no light at all.
It remains to be seen whether other car manufacturers follow in Volvo’s footsteps with cyclist and pedestrian detection systems. But with the increasing popularity of cycling, as a recreation, a sport and a means of basic transportation, the need for such systems is certainly there.