Cycle helmet crash testing now possible thanks to new collaboration

By Pritesh Ruthun Time of article published Jan 27, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Cycling is more popular than ever before. This is partially due to the desire to avoid others on public transport because of the need for social distancing. Others are opting for pedal power because they enjoy exercise.

But cycling comes with its risks – accidents, for instance. Bearing this in mind, Volvo Cars is teaming up with top Swedish sports and safety brand POC to undertake the world’s first crash tests of bike helmets against cars.

Volvo has one of the most state-of-the-art crash laboratories in the automotive world. Inaugurated in 2000, it is designed to replicate most of the accident scenarios that occur in real-life traffic. And, as Magdalena Lindman, technical expert at Volvo Cars Safety Centre and member of POC lab, points out, the company is also no newcomer to cyclist safety:

“We want to support drivers with active safety technology that can help avoid dangerous situations,” Lindman said.

“We introduced Pedestrian Detection with auto braking in 2010 and the world’s first Cyclist Detection with full auto brake feature on cars in 2013. Using the car’s cameras and radars to detect cyclists, Cyclist Detection warns the driver of an imminent collision and applies the brakes if further action is needed.”

The tests involving bike helmets are a first in the world. These helmets play an essential role in keeping cyclists safe; wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of sustaining a head and brain injury by up to 80%.

The Volvo-POC research project consists of a number of specially designed crash tests at Volvo’s safety research facilities in Gothenburg, Sweden. During these tests, POC bike helmets are worn by crash dummy heads mounted on a testing rig, from where they are launched towards different areas of the hood of a static Volvo car, at different speeds and angles for various measurements.

“Our tests are based on existing regulatory test procedures for pedestrian head protection,” explains Lindman. The tests allow Volvo Cars and POC to make a direct comparison between wearing and not wearing a helmet.

Lindman notes that the tests are extremely important. “Accidents between bikes and vehicles can lead to serious injury or death, which is why Volvo Cars has a clear strategy to avoid these types of accidents completely with the help of active safety technologies. This research will help to improve helmet safety and it provides Volvo Cars with valuable insights and learnings for future development,” she concludes.

DRIVE360

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