Based on a technology Volvo has built into cars since 2010 designed to prevent pedestrian accidents, Volvo's system includes a radar unit behind the car's grille, a camera in front of the interior rear-view mirror and central processors. The radar signals the speed and location of the obstacles ahead, while the camera identifies potential cyclists, and both keep an electronic eye on moving objects. If both sensors believe the car is closing in on the cyclist too quickly, they will flash a warning light and pulses the brakes up to full power without the driver's input.
Volvo says it will add the cyclist-spotting tech to all of its models by mid-May. It's part of a larger safety campaign by the Swedish-Chinese automaker, which has a goal of ending fatal accidents in or around Volvos by 2020. Such automatic systems have been rare and somewhat lukewarmly received to date, and how well the technology works in every situation remains untested. But if Volvo's advances prove successful, a few grateful cyclists might even switch from two wheels to four.