In what Ericsson are calling “a groundbreaking collaboration” Volvo Cars, protective gravity sports gear manufacturer (that’s helmets to me and you) POC and Ericsson recently presented an innovative safety technology connecting drivers and cyclists for the first time ever.

The technology consists of a connected car and helmet prototype that will establish 2-way communication offering proximity alerts to Volvo drivers and cyclists and thereby avoid accidents. We of course welcome the idea of a car manufacturer helping to address the problem by using “Connected Safety technology”. 

The global growth in cycling continues unabated as commuters take to their bikes. This has resulted in an increase in serious cycling accidents, an issue that Volvo Cars and POC believes is unacceptable and requires an innovative and concerted effort to address. Volvo Cars’ City Safety system – a standard in the all new XC90 – is a technology that can detect, warn and auto-brake to avoid collisions with cyclists. It was the industry’s first step to seriously address cyclist safety. This commitment has paved the way for the innovative helmet technology concept, presented at International CES 2015. 

Using a popular smartphone app for cyclists, such as Strava, the cyclist’s position can be shared through the Volvo cloud to the car, and vice versa. If an imminent collision is calculated, both road users will be warned – and enabled to take the necessary action to avoid a potential accident. The Volvo driver will be alerted to a cyclist nearby through a head-up display alert – even if he happens to be in a blind spot, e.g. behind a bend or another vehicle or hardly visible during night time. The cyclist will be warned via a helmet-mounted alert light.

It is hoped the cloud-based safety concept has exciting development opportunities and will ultimately help save lives across the whole spectrum of “unprotected” road users. 

Some Cycling Stats obtained from Ericsson:

Globally, 132.3 million bicycles were sold in 2013 (source: NPD Group 2013) 

Beijing government hopes 25% of people would use cycling to commute in 2015 (source: The Guardian, November 2013) 

In the Swedish city of Gothenburg alone, the number of bikers raised 30% in 2013 (source: Göteborg Posten, November 2014) 

4,533 cyclists were injured in Berlin only in 2012 (source: The Guardian, November 2013) 

55% of cyclist fatalities in EU-23 countries occur in urban areas (source: CARE Database, European Commission 2012). In US 69% of all cyclist deaths in 2012 occurred in urban areas (source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration/Traffic Safety Facts April 2014) 

(On the road) serious injuries for UK cyclists in 2013 were 31% higher than in 2009 (source: Department for Transport, Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2013 Annual Report) 

In US 726 cyclists were killed in 2012, an increase in 6.5% compared to 2011 and 49’000 were injured, +2.1% vs. 2011 (source: NHTSA/Traffic Safety Facts, November 2013) 

The total cost of bicyclist injuries and deaths is over $4 billion per year in the US (source: National Safety Council 2012) 

In Germany, The Netherlands and Poland more than 85% of cyclist fatalities occurred at crossroads. (source: CARE Database, European Commission 2012) 

In some countries, pedestrians and cyclists constitute more than 75% of road deaths (source: WHO Fact Sheet # 358, March 2013)

Volvo City Safety 

Since spring 2013, all new Volvo cars are equipped with Auto brake for cyclists. Volvo Cars’ system, a world first, uses radar and camera to detect cyclists and based on advanced sensor technology can apply full automatic braking should the car come close to a collision. 

Volvo Cars’ vision 2020 – and beyond 

Volvo Cars believes that fatalities and severe injuries in traffic are unacceptable. The Swedish safety pioneer has therefore declared its Vision 2020 – Nobody should die or be seriously injured in a new Volvo by the year 2020 –, and beyond this, to build cars that do not crash any more.

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