“One Ping Only”

Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October

Sean Connery as Captain Marko Ramius in the movie ‘The Hunt for Red October’ says the famous line: “Give me a ping, Vasili. One ping only, please.” This odd request is to help identify his submarine’s presence to a US submarine nearby. Volvo is thinking of doing something similar to make cycling safer, intrigued? Read on…

Volvo cars and bicyclists

Volvo says ‘Since the first lockdown (in Ireland) in March 2020, there has been a 45% increase in cycling in cities across Ireland. However, cyclists are still among the most at-risk road users, according to the World Health Organisation. In the past decade, 851 cyclists have been seriously injured on Irish roads, and cyclists, unlike car passengers, are a demographic whose risk is not decreasing. Lockdown 3.0 is here, and although we are restricted to a 5k radius, safety on city and urban roads is as important as ever. Volvo Cars, the leader in safety, asks ‘how can motorists and cyclists work together to create more cycle friendly cities?

(As we’re reported here before) ‘Volvo Cars has its own cyclist and pedestrian crash database, while other manufacturers mostly rely on common databases. Volvo Cars is also researching a ground-breaking new technology that uses ultrasounds via parametric speakers to “ping” pedestrians and cyclists, like a submarine’s sonar. This ping is essentially an ultrasonic sound beam which is targeted directly at a pedestrian or cyclist. When bouncing off the target’s body, the sound beam is modulated into a frequency range that only they can hear. They are effectively alerted to the car’s presence, and nobody else is disturbed. While this technology is in the developmental stages, it’s all part of Volvo’s efforts to create a universally understandable, and therefore safe, language for autonomous cars.’ 

Malin Ekholm, Head of Volvo Cars Safety Centre believes that “this project with POC is a good example of our pioneering spirit in safety. 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 head injuries one of the most common causes of serious injuries among cyclists, Volvo has been working with leading Swedish sports and safety brand, POC, for a series of world-first crash tests of bike helmets against cars, as part of a ground-breaking new research project that aims to further protect cyclists.’

We say well done Volvo and lets hope all manufacturers innovate ways to make the roads safer – after all we all share the road.


About Author

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan is a senior and highly respected motoring journalist based in Ireland. He is a frequently heard voice on motoring, transport and mobility matters and has multiple credits on national television, national print media, national and local radio and other outlets. Michael Sheridan has been a Car of the Year Judge for more 20 years (& more recently a Van of the Year judge). Michael has produced and directed many international and national motoring TV programmes and documentaries both on cars and motorcycles - including four films on the iconic Route 66. Michael Sheridan is a former Chairperson of the Association of Professional Motoring Press (APMP).

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