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The Volvo that hates cyclists

On yer bike: Volvo’s system now is intelligent enough to spot -- and brake for -- cyclists.

New technology allows Volvo cars to see cyclists, and even avoid them

7 Mar 2013

ONE of the safest car brands in the world will soon spread its sharing, caring attitude to cyclists.

Volvo has announced a world-first system that uses a mix of radar and cameras to detect cyclists that swerve out from the kerb in front of a vehicle, alerting the driver.

It will even watch a cyclist and automatically brake the car if it senses a collision is likely.

Volvo says advances in in-car software, including faster video processing, have made it possible for the car-maker to develop a system that can see and react to cyclists.

Systems in place today and used by brands including Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and less premium brands such as Subaru and Volkswagen generally are able to recognise cars and motorcycles in front of the vehicle equipped with forward-looking technology, but not cyclists.

Volvo has since been able to expand its system to recognise when pedestrians step in front of a car, and now cyclists.

"Our solutions for avoiding collisions with unprotected road users are unique in the industry. By covering more and more objects and situations, we reinforce our world-leading position within automotive safety,” Volvo senior vice-president of marketing, sales and customer service, Doug Speck, said.

“We keep moving towards our long-term vision to design cars that do not crash."Pedestrian and cyclist detection with full automatic brake will be available in Volvo’s V40, S60, V60, XC60, V70, XC70 and S80 models sold in Europe from mid-May.

The V40 mid-size hatchback launched in Australia last month now even includes a cushioning airbag that pops out from under the bonnet to help protect a pedestrian’s head.

Volvo Australia spokesman Oliver Peagam said the cyclist-safe system, which could make it to Australia as early as late this year, would become standard on all cars fitted with Volvo’s City Safety.

City Safety is standard on the S60, V60, XC60 and XC70 models, and can bring the car to a complete stop at speeds of up to 30km/h. The V40 also gets City Safety as standard across the range, but because it uses third-generation technology to include pedestrian protection, it is able to jump on the brakes from speeds of up to 50 km/h.

“It (cyclist detection) will be on all Volvo models with pedestrian protection,” Mr Peagam said.

“The next thing the engineers are working on is animal detection, so expect to see something about that soon.”

Research in Europe shows that about half of all cyclists killed on the road have collided with a car. In Australia, Department of Infrastructure and Transport statistics show 33 cyclists were killed on Australian roads in the 12 months to December 2012, although the numbers do not show how many involved a collision with a vehicle.

Queensland led the cyclists’ toll with 10 recorded deaths, followed by New South Wales and Victoria with seven each.

By comparison, 173 pedestrians were killed in the same period, with the most fatalities – 55 in total – recorded in NSW.

However, one area that Volvo’s technology still falls flat is protecting cyclists who hit car doors that are opened in front of them.

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