Joining the likes of Volvo and Jaguar, Spanish automaker Seat has introduced a safety system that automatically alerts drivers to the presence of cyclists on the road, and then proceeds to apply the brakes. The technology is being debuted on the company's Tarraco SUV.
Developed via 1,200 track tests that replicated 450 real-world driving scenarios, the system utilizes front-facing radar to detect the telltale signature of bicycles travelling in the same direction as the Tarraco. An onboard microprocessor then compares the speed and trajectory of the cyclists with those of the SUV. If it determines that a collision will occur within 1.5 to 2 seconds, it starts by sounding an audible alarm, and displaying a visual warning on the console.
Should the driver not respond immediately, the system then automatically applies the brakes – this happens 0.8 to 1 second before the collision is estimated to take place. According to the company, this means that if a driver were heading down the road at 72 km/h (45 mph), the vehicle would begin to brake while it was still about 20 meters (66 ft) away from a cyclist.
Seat does emphasize, however, that the system is not meant to replace diligent driving.
"This kind of assistant is no substitute for the driver's obligation to remain alert, respect traffic regulations, reduce speed and maintain the safety distance when passing a cyclist," says Esteban Alcantara, an engineer who is responsible for the automaker's Active Safety technology.
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