Volvo develops cyclist detection system that can brake before you

It's full steam ahead at Volvo today. First, it's announcement that Spotify will be incorporated into its cars' dashes and now a clever system which will automatically detect and brake for cyclists.

Called the Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with full auto brake system, it pretty much does what it says on the tin. Cyclists swerving in front of cars fitted with the technology will cause the vehicle to brake automatically, preventing a collision.

"As the leader in automotive safety, we have been first in the industry with all detection and auto brake technologies, from the first-generation brake support in 2006 to pedestrian detection with full auto brake in 2010," said Doug Speck, senior vice-president marketing, sales and customer service at Volvo Car Group.

A software upgrade to the current system with improved vision processing means Volvo can now help to prevent accidents with cyclists. The system will activate, for example, if a cyclist in the same lane swerves in front of the car. 

The system works by a combination of radar and camera. Radar finds and detects objects in front of the Volvo, which are then in turn identified by the camera and finally the vehicle's computer will apply braking if needed.

This is a major step forward for cycling safety and could, particularly in urban situations, save quite a few lives. Volvo has already introduced pedestrian airbags into plenty of its vehicles, but its continued emphasis on designing vehicles which keep the outside safe as well as its occupants has to be applauded.