Volvo takes the evolutionary leap in vehicle safety, again! Adds technology that can bring cars to a full stop in an emergency – without any help from the driver

September 29, 2009 at 4:34 pm

(Source: USA Today; Carkeys, UK)


Image Courtesy: USA Today

Automobile technology has exploded over the past two decades and todays cars are far more “intelligent” than the cars of the 70 and 80s.  These days there are more computers and sensors (collectively captured under the term Intelligent Vehicle, a terminology that is more familiar to those involved in Intelligent Transportation Systems) operating side by side with the driver to ensure that the vehicle operates at optimal efficiency while managing the safety of the vehicle by avoiding or alerting/warning about impending collisions.   The state of the art technology deployed in some cars can even slow down the vehicle by applying brakes without driver’s assistance, just to minimize the impact of the crash.  Now, that will soon become yesterday’s technology, thanks to vehicle safety pioneers at Volvo who are hard at work to deploy “full auto brake” and “pedestrian safety” functions.   USA Today reports on this latest vehicle technology development at the Volvo shop.

By now, collision avoidance systems that automatically apply the brakes to a speeding car have become pretty common. But while cars will suddenly slow if they detect an accident is about to happen, automakers have been hesitant to bring them to a sudden and full emergency stop.

Volvo is about to change all that. With the launch of the S60 next year, Volvo will introduce a “full auto brake” and “pedestrian safety” function. Cars will come a full stop at speeds less than about 15 miles an hour if their radar systems detect they are about to strike a car or a person. If the car is going faster, the car will try to come as close to a full stop as possible.

“If the car is traveling faster, the aim is to reduce the impact speed as much as possible. In most cases, we can reduce the collision force by about 75%,” says Thomas Broberg, Volvo’s safety expert. “Considering the large number of pedestrian fatalities that occur, if we manage to reduce the fatality risk 20 percent, this new function will make a big difference.”, a British website reports that this effort is part of Volvo’s 2020 vision, which has two goals – firstly, that nobody will be killed or injured in a new Volvo and, secondly, that the average CO2 emissions of the entire range will be below 100g/km. As part of addressing this first goal, the first step forward from the current situation regarding safety is the introduction of Collision Warning With Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Safety, both of which will be introduced in the new S60, due to be launched next year, and Volvo is also upgrading its Adaptive Cruise Control so that it now maintains a gap to the vehicle in front at speeds right down to zero, rather than the present 18mph minimum.

Further development depends on vehicles being able to communicate with each other – the idea being that they recognise it and take steps to avoid a collision regardless of what the drivers are doing – and this in turn will require a suitable infrastructure. “We believe that the key is to use systems that are already available for other purposes,” says Jan Ivarsson, Volvo’s Head of Safety Strategy. “The air around us is already charged with communication, most of it used for pleasure or convenience.

“Adding traffic safety communication to this existing architecture is a far more sensible route than trying to invent and agree on a completely new ‘language’ for communicating in the traffic environment.”

Fifty years ago, Volvo introduced seat belts, which are now a “standard” in all vehicles entering the market(s) and has been credited for saving millions of lives world over since its introduction.  Hope this new introduction can repeat the magic for the 2nd time and further cut the vehicle-related fatalities and crashes.  Click here to read the entire article.