DETROIT (January 11, 2008) -- Volvo Car Corporation has presented two new technologies that will help vehicles prevent some of the most life-threatening collisions. The first will detect and engage the brakes automatically if a pedestrian steps out in front of the car. The second, Collision Avoidance by Auto Steering, detects the risk for a frontal collision caused by lane departure and steers back automatically to avoid a frontal collision. The features are part of Volvo Cars' preventive safety development program and will be available within a few years.
The 2008 Volvo V70, XC70 and S80 can currently be equipped with a Collision Warning with Auto Brake feature that brakes the vehicle automatically if a rear-end collision with a moving or stationary vehicle is imminent.
The next development stage is a function that can also detect pedestrians and brake automatically if a person suddenly steps out in front of the car and the driver fails to react. Similar to the newly-introduced Collision Warning with Auto Brake, the future function will use radar with a wider angle search area and a camera to detect objects in front of the car.
First a warning - then automatic braking
If the car approaches a pedestrian, an audible signal and a red warning light on the windscreen's head-up display will activate in an effort to get the driver's attention.
If the risk of a collision increases further, assisted panic braking is activated. The brake pads move closer to the brake disc to provide a quicker reaction time to the driver's inputs. At the same time, hydraulic pressure in the braking system is increased so that the most effective braking takes place even if the driver does not fully depress the brake pedal.
However, if the driver does not brake, and the collision becomes imminent, the car's brakes are activated automatically. The automatic braking is designed to reduce the car's speed as much as possible, thereby reducing the risk of more serious injury to a pedestrian if a collision cannot be completely avoided despite braking. The automatic braking system has the capacity to reduce the car's speed by up to 25 km/h (15 mph). Depending on the situation and the car's speed, there are cases where a collision cannot be completely avoided.
"Accident statistics show that the risk of a passenger being killed increases dramatically if the collision takes place at speeds above 30 km/h," says Jonas Ekmark, Manager for Preventive Safety at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. "That is why it is so important for us to reduce the speed as much as possible when a collision is unavoidable."
To avoid automatic braking in situations when the driver has the situation under control, Volvo Cars has programmed the technology to activate automatic braking only when it becomes impossible to steer away from the collision. As an example: when it's too late to avoid the collision completely, even if the maximum braking force is used. However, it is still important to reduce the impact speed as much as possible.
"But in most scenarios, the warning signal will be given in time to help the driver to completely avoid the collision, and this is of course the best outcome," says Ekmark.
Steering automatically to avoid a head-on collision
Collision Avoidance by Auto Steering is the second generation of Lane Departure Warning available with the Volvo V70, Volvo XC70 and S80. Lane Departure Warning uses a camera to monitor the car's position between lane markers. If the car wanders across any of the lane markers without using the lane change signal, the driver is warned by an audible signal.
Collision Avoidance by Auto Steering is the next step. The feature is designed to help prevent a frontal collision caused by temporary distraction by using both a camera and radar to monitor the position of the car and the oncoming traffic. If the car is about to move into the opposite lane and an oncoming vehicle is on a collision course, the car is automatically steered back to a safe position in the original lane.
Collision Avoidance by Auto Steering is being developed and the high demands for reliability mean that Volvo Cars' experts are still assessing which degrees of steering wheel intervention are relevant and the exact speed range it can operate within.
Communication between cars results in fewer accidents
Cars that can communicate with other vehicles and the surrounding traffic environment should enhance the potential for safer driving and fewer traffic accidents. For this communication to work, it is necessary to have a standard "language" which makes it possible for all vehicles to talk to each other irrespective of make.
Currently, several international projects endeavour to contribute to this standardization. Together with other car manufacturers, Ford Motor Company is participating in the American CAMP (Collision Avoidance Metric Partnership) collaboration and the PReVENT project funded by the European Commission. Volvo Car Corporation is a participant, assessing the potential for car-to-car communication which could provide:
- Information from a car in front that the road surface is slippery a couple of miles ahead.
- A warning that the traffic is at a standstill further on.
- Coordination of automatic evasive measures if there is the threat of a collision.
- The potential for of driving "in convoy" where coordinated communication would allow the vehicles to be driven exceptionally close to each other on a motorway to provide an effective traffic flow and reduced fuel consumption.
Volvo has a number of test vehicles involved in the CAMP collaboration that can communicate with each other. One test involves the driver in one car braking early after receiving information that another car has come across an obstacle and has completed a panic stop.
"With communication between vehicles, and between vehicles and the traffic environment, a large number of today's accidents could be avoided. The major challenges are to find a standard "language" and the particular applications that are most urgent and effective," says Ekmark.
Volvo Cars of Canada Corp. is part of the Volvo Car Corporation of Göteborg, Sweden. The company provides marketing, sales, parts, service, technology and training support to the 42 Volvo automobile retailers across the country. The company's product range includes the stylish and sporty C30, the elegant C70 hardtop convertible, the compact S40 sedan, the S60 sport sedan, the S80 flagship sedan, the versatile V50 wagon and the award-winning XC90 sport utility vehicle. For the 2008 model year, the company is introducing two all-new models: the redesigned V70 wagon and the capable and comfortable XC70.
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Media Web site: www.media.volvocars.com/ca
Marshall Fenn Communications
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Marshall Fenn Communications
Office: 416-962-3366 x254