Ealing launches trial of ‘intelligent’ lorry cycle safety system

A trial of an innovative new lorry safety system which warns drivers when cyclists and pedestrians are close to the vehicle was launched by Ealing Council on Tuesday (26 November).

Cllr Bassam Mahfouz riding alongside a HGV fitted with the new Cycle Safety Shield
Cllr Bassam Mahfouz riding alongside a HGV fitted with the new Cycle Safety Shield system

The Cycle Safety Shield System is the first of its kind that can detect cyclists and pedestrians 360 degrees around the vehicle while filtering out other inanimate objects, such as bus stops and lamp posts, reducing unnecessary distractions which can be caused by other detection alarms. Using image recognition technology, the system has the ability to detect multiple cyclists and pedestrians within 30 metres and displays the position of each on a monitor inside the lorry’s cabin. An alarm only will sound to the driver if a cyclists or pedestrian becomes too close to the vehicle. The monitor also displays 360 degree bird’s eye view of the vehicle, completely eliminating any blind spots.

The system also helps to improve driver training and awareness by scanning the road ahead for speed signs, road markings and other vehicles. The system notifies drivers if they are travelling above the speed limit or if they drift into another lane. It also ensures drivers keep a safe distance behind vehicles in front, and automatically dims the lorry’s high-beam lights if on-coming traffic is detected.

Ealing Council has fitted the system to a ten-plate grab lorry, which is operated by its highway repairs contractor, Murrills Construction. The system’s effectiveness is being tested over a six month period and findings are expected to be released by summer 2014.

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “Road safety is a priority for us and we need to do what we can to avoid any more cyclists losing their lives in accidents involving lorries.

“The difference between this system and others is that it is intelligent – it can decipher between objects and people, and works with drivers to help them become more conscientious on the road.

“This trial is the next step in the council’s plans to transform Ealing into a safer and friendlier cycling borough, and builds on the cycling awareness training we have already provided for more than 150 of our lorry drivers. If successful, we hope to roll the system out across our contractors’ entire fleet.”

Ealing Council developed the technology in partnership with Safety Shields Systems and is running the trial using funding from Transport for London’s borough cycling programme.

Watch BBC London’s coverage:

Read more about the detail of how the Cycle Safety Shield works: