Volvo is incorporating technology into its next-generation buses that can detect pedestrians or cyclists and warn them and the driver to take evasive action.

The company said it wanted to take steps to reduce annual road traffic deaths, and particularly those that involved collisions between heavy vehicles and “unprotected” road users.

The collision avoidance-equipped buses are expected to be on European roads sometime next year.

“Accidents involving buses and unprotected road-users seldom occur, but when they do the consequences may be very serious,” Volvo Buses vehicle features and safety director Peter Danielsson said.

“In order to minimise the risks, it is important that drivers and anyone moving around near buses – such as at bus stops and pedestrian crossings – pays close attention to the traffic.”

Between 2007 and 2011, there were 80 accidents involving buses and pedestrians in the Sydney CBD. Between 2004 and 2014, there were 11 fatalities.

Volvo’s Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection System could assist in this regard by continuously monitoring the bus’s vicinity using a camera and detection algorithms.

“When the system detects unprotected road-users near the bus, it transmits a sound to warn other road-users that the bus is approaching,” the vehicle maker said.

“At the same time, the driver is alerted via sound and light signals inside the vehicle. If there is an imminent risk of an incident, the bus’s horn is activated.”

Danielsson said that the technology shares components with similar systems already found in some makes of cars; however, its key point of difference was being able to warn both parties of an issue before it was too late.

One reason Volvo is keen to see the technology fitted to buses is that the trend to electric vehicles is removing the warning signs to a pedestrian or cyclist of a bus approaching.

“As the proportion of electrified vehicles in urban traffic continues to grow, exhaust fumes and noise continue to disappear,” Danielsson said.

“At the same time, however, it is important to also eliminate any risks that might arise as the vehicles in the urban environment operate much more quietly.

“The bus can be heard – but without being disruptive. We’ve solved this problem by developing a synthetic background sound with a frequency range that is not perceived as disruptive.

“For instance, it does not penetrate windows with triple glazing, unlike the low-frequency noise made by a diesel engine.”

Before the end of the year, the Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection System will become operational in field tests on route 55 in Gothenburg, Sweden.