Volvo Now Using Radar, Cameras On Cars To Improve Cyclists' Safety

The system is the first of its kind. But caution is still the best system, say road safety experts.

Volvo has launched an updated safety system to its vehicles that it claims will protect cyclists. The feature, unveiled at the Geneva Motor show yesterday, is an update to its pedestrian detection system which it launched in 2010, and alerts the driver via a siren, deploying the vehicle's brakes when it detects a two-wheeler in its path. Road safety campaigners, however, say that the system is no replacement for driver caution.

The system—Volvo takes its innovations in the sphere of driver safely very seriously indeed—works using a grille-mounted radar and a camera embedded in the rear-view mirror, but needs a more powerful processor than its predecessor. The downside of this means that the system has to be installed directly in the factory, and will cost an extra $2,775 for consumers.

While everyone knows that the ideal situation would be wide, friendly bike lanes, similar to the ones found in Copenhagen and Berlin, that's not possible in every city. Those without with wide sidewalks or boulevards that can be annexed for cyclists' safety tend to come up with blue-sky-thinking skyways, not the most pragmatic of approaches.

As more and more people take to the road on two wheels, the war between cyclists and motorists is escalating—providing a growing market for safety innovations. Those keen on retribution can use the Helmet of Justice, nervous travelers may prefer smart headgear, while the aesthetes among us prefer more minimal forms of protection, such as the Hovding.

Cyclists, what do you think about Volvo's safety feature? Would you trust a computerized system to give you more protection, or do you feel that over-reliance on this will just make for less aware drivers? And motorists, what is your view on the increasing levels of two-wheel commuters in cities? Are they, as politician Ed Orcutt claimed last week (before apologizing) a menace and should be subject to taxation? Freewheel your opinions into the cycle park that is our comments section, please.

[Image by Flickr user Richard Mason / Cyclicious]

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