Volvo is planning to share information gathered by its cars with bicycle riders. When a car senses trouble, it shoots a cellphone signal to the rider’s helmet, making it flash a light and sound an alarm.
Collaborators include Ericsson, the communications company, and POC, a sporting equipment company—both, like Volvo, based in Sweden. The system will be displayed two weeks from now at the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.
POC’s helmet is the really new thing. Cycling apps already exist for smart phones, and traffic information is already being gathered by Volvo cars equipped with the City Safety system. It warns the driver when the car’s path is liable to intersect with the paths of nearby cars, cyclists and pedestrians. The logical next step is to funnel that warning through the Cloud, so that others can benefit from it.
Such car-to-car communications systems are coming soon in the United States, and perhaps even sooner in Europe, where standards are being forged both for that purpose and for car-to-infrastructure communications.
Volvo says that cars cause half of all cycling fatalities in Europe, a statistic that appears to refer only to collisions with moving vehicles. But cyclists also face the threat of parked cars whose doors suddenly open. How about connecting some door sensors to the Cloud as well?
Philip E. Ross is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. His interests include transportation, energy storage, AI, and the economic aspects of technology. He has a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University and another, in journalism, from the University of Michigan.