Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme), the organisation that rates new cars sold in Europe according to a number of safety criteria, has added cyclist detection technology to the features sought from vehicle manufacturers, with the new Nissan Leaf securing 5 stars under the latest, tougher testing regime.
The vehicle, the previous version of which received 5 stars in 2011, is the first to have been tested under new protocols introduced by Euro NCAP this year and which are aimed at being more extensive and tougher than the existing ones.
New tests featuring in Euro NCAP’s latest assessments include cyclist detection through autonomous emergency braking (AEB) technology, which has been tested for the first time on the Nissan Leaf and has been combined with AEB Pedestrian under a new designation called AEB Vulnerable Road Users (AEB VRU).
In this video Matthew Avery, director of research at Berkshire-based vehicle safety specialists Thatcham Research, explains how AEB works around cyclists.
Euro NCAP, established in 1997 by the Transport Research Laboratory for the UK Department for Transport and now backed by several European governments and the EU as well as motoring, consumer and insurance organisations, said:
Detecting cyclists presents new challenges to car manufacturers, both from a hardware and a software perspective: sensors must have a wide angle of view to detect fast-moving cyclists in good time, and complex algorithms are needed to ensure correct identification of potential collision threats while avoiding false activations.
Robbert Verweij, a board member of Euro NCAP and senior policy advisor at the Dutch Ministry of Transport, said, “It was the drive to save cyclists’ lives which inspired the Dutch government to fund a major project which led to the development of a protocol for detecting cyclists.
“We are honoured that Euro NCAP has decided to add this protocol to their rating scheme. This first Euro NCAP release of a AEB-Cyclist-equipped vehicle shows what the joint efforts of governments and cyclists’ associations can achieve in collaboration with Euro NCAP.”
Other features featuring in the tests for the first time include pedestrian detection in darkness and obscure lighting conditions ,and Emergency Lane Keeping (ELK) systems which enable vehicles to autonomously take evasive action if the car is in danger of leaving the road or of colliding with another vehicle.
Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP, commented “These latest updates in Euro NCAP's active safety testing focus on both the protection of those inside the car and those who share road-space with it.
“Our new assessments demonstrate the increasing level of sophistication that can be achieved by connecting various sensor systems installed on the vehicle.
“As the cost of these systems drops and computing capabilities increase, standard vehicles will soon become able to help prevent significantly more complex real-life crashes.”
He added: “Euro NCAP seeks to encourage this trend and in the context of a safe systems approach, will continue to challenge auto makers to deliver the highest levels of safety performance as standard, for car occupants and vulnerable road users.”
While Euro NCAP tests are voluntarily, the fact that results are cited regularly by the motoring press when reviewing new models encourages manufacturers to sign up for the programme and they are seen as having made a major contribution to road safety in Europe over the past two decades.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.