Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

Road sign: A feature in new Volvos will track nearby cyclists and pedestrians.

Cyclists and drivers have been sworn enemies for as long as anyone can remember. Biking around Boston means dodging opening car doors, swerving around potholes, and enduring incomprehensible abuse from permanently enraged taxi drivers. Driving the same streets in a car, meanwhile, involves keeping one eye peeled for cyclists who run red lights, weave through traffic, and generally seem hell-bent on injuring themselves. A clever new system from Volvo could perhaps help thaw relations between these natural roadway foes.

The system uses a camera embedded in a car’s rearview mirror, combined with a radar instrument in the grill to scan the road ahead. If it spots an object, an onboard computer will determine whether it is a cyclist or a pedestrian, and it’s ready to apply the brakes if someone swerves out into traffic or darts across road. Many cars already come with safety systems that will brake if a collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian seems imminent. These systems have probably saved lives. By tracking nearby moving objects, the Volvo system could prevent further accidents.

What I like most about this system is the way it enhances a driver’s awareness of his or her surroundings. If a driver doesn’t spot a cyclist, the warning flashed on the windscreen (see above) will serve as a reminder to drive more cautiously. Augmenting drivers’ ability to monitor the road is increasingly common—some BMWs, for instance, come with a camera system that reads traffic signs as they whiz by and shows the correct speed limit on the dashboardand it can be preferrable to a system that tries to take over completely.

Volvo will demonstrate the system at this year’s New York Auto Show and says it will appear in virtually all its models from mid-2013.

6 comments. Share your thoughts »

Credit: Volvo

Tagged: Computing, Business, Communications, traffic, driving, Volvo

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me