Copenhagen, Denmark – Volvo Cars is testing a new technology that brakes the car when it senses the driver is not going to stop for a pedestrian. Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection, now being tested in Copenhagen, will debut on the 2010 S60.
“Factors like traffic behaviour, road conditions and climate must be taken into account in the design of the final system,” said Thomas Broberg, senior safety advisor at Volvo Cars. “All told, we have collected more than 500,000 kilometres of real-life data. We can also use the information from these traffic tests to conduct advanced computer simulations. The previous stages were developed to help the driver avoid collisions with other vehicles. Now we are taking a giant step forward with a function that also boosts safety for unprotected road users. What is more, we are advancing from fifty per cent to full automatic braking power. To the best of our knowledge, none of our competitors have made such progress in this area.”
The system consists of a new dual-mode radar unit integrated into the car’s grille, a camera behind the inside rearview mirror, and a central control unit. The radar detects objects and measures the distance to them, while the camera determines what type of objects they are.
In an emergency situation, the driver is first alerted by an audible warning, along with a flashing light in the windshield’s head-up display. If the driver does not respond and the system assesses that a collision is imminent, the car’s brakes are applied with full braking power.
Volvo said that in the capital cities of countries in the European Union, 1,560 people died in road collisions in 2007, 43 per cent of them pedestrians. Speed is of considerable significance; the risk of a pedestrian being killed in a crash at 50 km/h is 85 per cent higher than if the speed is 25 km/h.
“Our aim is that this new technology should help the driver avoid collisions with pedestrians at speeds below 25 km/h,” Broberg said. “If the car is travelling 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 per cent. Considering the large number of pedestrian fatalities that occur, if we manage to lower the fatality risk by 20 per cent, this new function will make a big difference. In specific situations, the fatality reduction can be up to 85 per cent.”