Volvo unveils new Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection System


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of the 1.25 million people killed on the world’s roads every year are ‘vulnerable road users’, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. A new bus safety system has been launched at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hannover, Germany, that aims to help reduce that figure.

Volvo Buses has unveiled a new pedestrian and cyclist detection system, unique to the bus industry, which will be introduced on Volvo’s European city bus fleet in 2017. The company’s new Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection System continuously monitors the bus’s vicinity using a camera. When the system detects unprotected road users near the bus, it transmits a sound to warn other road users that the bus is approaching. At the same time, the driver is alerted via sound and light signals inside the vehicle. If there is an imminent risk of an incident, the bus’s horn is activated. Volvo Buses’ introduction of this type of warning system is part of the company’s electromobility program. As the proportion of electrified vehicles in urban traffic continues to grow, exhaust fumes and noise are reducing accordingly. However, it is important to simultaneously eliminate any risks that might arise due to vehicles in the urban environment operating much more quietly.

This autumn, the Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection System will become operational in field tests on Route 55 in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. It consists of a camera, image-processing system and sophisticated algorithms for the detection of pedestrians and cyclists. The system provides the driver with warning alerts through in-cab light and sound signals. It also creates an external synthetic background sound, using an amplifier and loudspeaker. At speeds below 31mph (50km/h), a bus running on electricity is far quieter than a diesel-powered bus. At higher speeds, most of the noise is caused by friction between the tires and road surface. The new system meets the minimum noise level demands that will be introduced for electrified vehicles in the European Union in 2019.

“Accidents involving buses and unprotected road users seldom occur, but when they do the consequences may be very serious. In order to minimize the risks, it is important that drivers and anyone moving around near buses, such as at bus stops and pedestrian crossings, pay close attention to the traffic. In this context, the Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection System offers excellent support,” explained Peter Danielsson, director of vehicle features and safety at Volvo Buses. “Several of the components in our system are based on the same tried and tested technology found in many cars. But we are the only vehicle manufacturer to offer a solution that simultaneously notifies both driver and unprotected road user. The bus can be heard, but without being disruptive. We’ve solved this problem by developing a synthetic background sound with a frequency range that is not perceived as disruptive. For instance, it does not penetrate windows with triple glazing, unlike the low-frequency noise made by a diesel engine.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).