Long a pioneer in auto safety (the first company with seat belts, after all), Volvo introduced a new system this year that recognizes both pedestrians and bicyclists ahead of the car to alert and avert collisions. Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with Full Auto Brake alerts drivers to impending collisions and if the driver does not respond to the alert, the system can stop the car to avert or minimize a major impact.

This system, voted an AOL Autos finalist for Technology of the Year by the judges, builds upon one that Volvo has had for many years that focused on vehicles in front of the Volvo's path called Auto Brake. Now, with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, a radar unit assesses the speed of objects and works with a fast-acting camera that serves to profile the size and shape of the objects. It continually monitors movements, trajectories and profiles of objects. Profiling for safety, if you will.

If the system calculates that contact is imminent, a red warning illuminates in front of the driver. If the driver does react to the warning, the system stands down. If the driver does not react to the warning, full braking pressure is engaged autonomously and sufficient to engage the anti-lock braking system. It doesn't guarantee accident avoidance (no such system does) but it will lessen impact severity and could completely avert an impact.

Most significantly, Volvo offers Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection across the 2014 line as standard equipment. It's part of Volvo's overriding vision of keeping occupants safe should danger befall them and ultimately, working towards averting all crashes and impacts.

"One million Volvos with [the original] Auto Brake on the roads take us toward our aim that nobody should be killed or suffer serious injuries in a new Volvo car by the year 2020," noted Thomas Broberg, Senior Safety Advisor at Volvo.