Volvo airs cloud-based cyclist protection system

December 19, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
The facts are disturbing: 50 percent of all cyclists killed in Europe's traffic have collided with a car. In Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, more than 85% of cyclist fatalities occurred at crossroads. To make cyclist's life safer, Volvo has developed a technology that increases the awareness both for cyclists as for car drivers by utilising mobile radio technology.

For the technology, which will be demonstrated at the upcoming CES 2015 in Las Vegas, Volvo collaborated with telecommunications equipment provider Ericsson and protective sports gear manufacturer POC. The system utilises a smartphone app to announce the cyclist's position to the Volvo cloud and from there to the cars in the surroundings. The information is also passed vice versa; if the danger of an imminent collision is identified, both the car driver as well as the cyclist will be warned - the car driver gets a message in his head-up display; the cyclist is warned through a helmet-mounted alert light.

The system has the advantage that car drivers - as long as they drive a Volvo with the system installed - can detect cyclists even in the blind spot or under poor visibility conditions (night, unlighted bike etc).

Similar attempts have already been launched at several places. For instance, the Munich Technical University a year ago launched a trial in which it equipped pedestrians and cyclists with a mobile handset that took the function of a transponder. Back in 2010, the Kassel university conducted a similar experiment. All of these approaches share the same problem: While they improve the safety for persons carrying such a transponder or smartphone will improve, traffic participants who are not equipped with the system are effectively becoming less visible - the system simply directs the driver's attention to the better equipped objects. The advantage of Volvo's new approach is that is a two-way system, passing its alerts also to the cyclist - former systems did not do this.

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