Volvo Cars, a leader in automotive safety, is teaming up with top Swedish sports and safety brand POC for a series of world-first crash tests of bike helmets against cars, as part of a groundbreaking new research project that aims to further protect cyclists.
Accidents between bikes and vehicles can often lead to serious injury or death, which is why Volvo Cars has a clear strategy to avoid these types of accidents with the help of active safety technologies.
Its Cyclist Detection with Full Auto Brake system uses the car’s cameras and radars to detect cyclists, warns the driver of an imminent collision and applies the brakes if further action is needed. It is a development of Volvo Cars’ automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection systems, in line with its safety vision.
The Volvo-POC research project consists of a number of specially designed crash tests at the famous Volvo Cars safety research facilities in Gothenburg, Sweden, and is part of a wider research initiative to understand the types of long-term injuries sustained by cyclists.
During these tests, POC bike helmets are worn by crash dummy heads mounted on a testing rig, from which they are launched towards different areas of the hood of a static Volvo car, at different speeds and angles, for various measurements.
The tests are based on existing regulatory test procedures for pedestrian head protection. This allows Volvo Cars and POC to make a direct comparison between wearing a helmet and not wearing a helmet.
Current bike helmet testing procedures are fairly rudimentary, involving helmets being dropped from different heights on either a flat or an angled surface, and do not take into account vehicle-to-bike accidents. The Volvo-POC project aims to further refine and advance such testing.
The learnings from the research project will help POC make its helmets safer and more protective in the event of a car-bike accident, while the tests will also provide valuable insights for Volvo Cars into these types of accidents for future development.
“This project with POC is a good example of our pioneering spirit in safety,” said Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre and one of the company’s leading safety engineers. “We often develop new testing methods for challenging traffic scenarios. Our aim is not only to meet legal requirements or pass rating tests. Instead we go beyond ratings, using real traffic situations to develop technology that further improves safety.”
With over 60 international awards for safety, innovation and design, POC has built a reputation for challenging conventional wisdom and looking at new research, science and innovation to bring forward new ways of thinking to reduce accidents.
“Much like Volvo Cars, safety is at the very centre of our mission and drives all our ideas and innovations,” says Oscar Huss, head of product development at POC. “By working closely with scientific leaders in the POC Lab we strive to lead the way in introducing new safety ideas. Certification standards are essential, but they should never limit our willingness to look beyond their parameters to find better and more innovative ways to reduce the consequences of accidents.”
In recent years Volvo Cars has focused on also protecting people outside its cars. For example, Volvo Cars launched its pedestrian detection with full-auto braking in 2010 and cyclist detection with full-auto braking in 2013. Both technologies come as standard in all Volvo cars as part of the City Safety package and have helped to improve overall traffic safety.
In an earlier collaboration, Volvo Cars and POC worked on a pilot to connect bike helmets with cars in order to help avoid accidents.