miércoles, 24 de abril de 2013

Sat-nav warns of cyclist crash risks

17 April 2013 Last updated at 20:42 GMT By Leo Kelion Technology reporter Navevo PNN420 Navevo says it plans to add to the 100 warning zones built into the launch units of its new sat-nav A sat-nav system which warns lorry drivers when they are approaching roads where they are most at risk of hitting a cyclist has been unveiled.

Navevo's device is currently limited to offering alerts in London where transport officials provided details of the 100 most dangerous spots.

But the Hertfordshire-based firm says it intends to expand coverage to other areas later.

A cycle safety group welcomed the news but said further action was needed.

The announcement comes just over a week since a cyclist was killed while cycling to work at University College London.

Dr Katharine Giles was fatally injured after being hit by a tipper truck turning onto a Westminster street.

Her death prompted the mayor, Boris Johnson, to discuss banning heavy goods vehicles (HGV) from the capital unless they were fitted with cycle safety equipment.

Sound and vision

According to Transport for London - which provided the hotspot data - 53 cyclists were killed on London's roads between 2009 and 2012.

Of those 28 were the victims of collisions with large goods vehicles.

Continue reading the main story image of Richard Westcott Richard Westcott BBC transport correspondent

These safety innovations are interesting but there is something else coming down the road that could really help save cyclists' lives.

There's a plan to change European rules that dictate how long a lorry can be.

They were originally brought in to stop trucks getting too big and wrecking roads and bridges, but the unfortunate side-effect has been to stunt the size of the cab at the front.

That's why they're all shaped like a brick, which limits how aerodynamic they can be, and how safe for other road users.

The rule changes won't mean bigger loads, but they will pave the way for different, bullet-shaped cabs, and that means bigger windows and fewer, dangerous blind-spots where cyclists can disappear.

It'll be a good four or five years before you see different shaped lorries on the roads, but some believe they could help save hundreds of lives every year.

The authority said it hoped latest innovation might help address the problem.

"This is the first time that this information has been made available to a company specifically to provide additional information for HGV drivers," a spokesman told the BBC.

"We are happy to work with other developers should they wish to provide similar information within their products."

In Navevo's case the data will be used to flash a warning symbol on its sat-nav maps when a driver approaches a "warning zone" with a 50m (164ft) radius circle drawn around the area.

In addition the machine can be set to sound an audible tone when the vehicle enters the highlighted space.

The firm said it opted not to sound the alarm at every junction as it would have proved counterproductive, but said that it planned to add to the initial 100 locations in London as well as expanding to other cities.

It added that the updates would be offered to all purchasers of its ProNav PNN420 system free of charge.

"The safety of drivers, cyclists and other users of the road is a concern for everybody and we are proud to lead the navigation industry by launching this world first safety feature," said chief executive Nick Caesari.

British Cycling - the national governing body for cycling which campaigns on road safety - said the move was a step in the right direction.

"Any technology that can help protect cyclists is welcome and we applaud TfL and Navevo for coming up with a system that can warn drivers about particularly dangerous junctions," said policy director Martin Gibbs.

"However, this issue cannot be solved by technology alone.

Graphic of Volvo detection system Volvo is launching a system which uses a radar in its cars' grilles to detect cyclists

"Over half of cyclist deaths in London involve HGVs so we'd like to see restrictions on the times when they can enter cities as well as mandatory fitting of sensors, side-bars and better HGV education on cyclist awareness."

Navevo's system is based on historic data showing the most popular cycle routes and common HGV travel plans, and seeing where they coincide.

However, Volvo recently unveiled a more active approach to the problem.

The Chinese-owned vehicle manufacturer has announced an update to its pedestrian detection radar system which will also identify cyclists. If a collision is anticipated the system sounds an alarm and automatically deploy the breaks.

The optional extra is due to be introduced in 2014 and will initially be limited to seven car models in the firm's range.

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