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Groundbreaking Volvo technology helps drivers avoid pedestrian collisions


Volvo Car Corporation will introduce the next generation of preventive safety technology with the unveiling of the S60 Concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, 2009. The company's Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection reacts when a pedestrian walks out in front of a vehicle and will activate the full braking power if the driver does not respond.


This safety innovation is the next step in Volvo Cars' continuous development of technologies that detect collision situations and actively help the driver avoid a collision. Volvo Cars is introducing the system on the S60 Concept at the Detroit show and plans to make it available when the redesigned S60 enters production in 2010.

"The previous stages were developed to help the driver avoid collisions with other vehicles," explains Thomas Broberg, safety expert at Volvo Cars. "Now we are taking a giant step forward with a feature that also boosts safety for unprotected road-users. What is more, we are now advancing from fifty percent to full automatic braking power. To our knowledge, none of our competitors have made such progress in this area. This technology helps us take an important step towards our long-term vision of designing cars that should not crash. Our aim for 2020 is that no one should be killed or injured in a Volvo car."


Collisions involving pedestrians common in urban traffic
Within the European Union, the proportion of pedestrians in overall traffic fatalities varies from 10 to 25 percent, depending on the country.  In the EU countries' capital cities, 1,560 people died in road collisions in 2007. Of these, 43 percent were pedestrians.


The speed of the vehicle involved in a collision with a pedestrian is of considerable significance to the outcome of the incident. Lowering the speed will help dramatically to reduce the risk of serious injury to the pedestrian. If speed drops from 50 km/h to 30 km/h, the chance of a pedestrian's survival dramatically increases.


Avoids collisions at speeds below 20 km/h
"Our aim is that this new technology should help the driver avoid collisions with pedestrians at speeds below 20 km/h. If the car is being driven 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 percent," says Broberg.

This technology is also highly beneficial in the event of rear-end impacts with other vehicles. Studies indicate that half of all drivers who drive into another vehicle from behind do not brake prior to the collision.  An initial warning remains paramount to the Volvo system and it's designed to alert the driver to brake or manoeuvre away from the hazard. Automatic braking is an emergency measure that is only activated when the collision is imminent. In such cases, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake can help entirely avoid a collision if the relative speed difference between the two vehicles is less than 25 km/h.


Safer detection with state-of-the-art technology
Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection consists of a new, state-of-the-art dual-mode radar unit integrated into the vehicle's grille, a camera near the rear-view mirror and a central control unit. The radar and camera continuously monitor the road in front of the vehicle. The radar's task is to detect objects and measure the distance to them. The camera's function is to determine what type of objects they are. The function is programmed to respond to vehicles in front that are at a standstill or moving in the same direction. Thanks to the state-of-the-art radar, which has a widened field of vision, the unit can also detect the moving pattern of a pedestrian.

"We've been working on this technology for ten years now" says Broberg. "We have had test cars out on the roads for several years and we've driven in many different countries. Factors like traffic scenarios, road conditions and climate should be considered in the design of the final system. We can also use the information from these tests to make advanced computer simulations, to test and verify the system in different scenarios."


New technology permits full braking power
In a situation where a collision seems likely, the driver first gets an audible warning together with a flashing light on the windscreen's heads-up display. In order to prompt an immediate, intuitive reaction, the visual warning is designed to replicate a brake light in front of the Volvo vehicle. If the driver does not respond to the warning and the system assesses that a collision is imminent, the vehicle's brakes are applied with full braking power.

"Active brake activation requires that the object is confirmed by both the radar and the camera," explains Broberg. "Thanks to the state-of-the-art sensors, it is now possible to engage full braking power. We are among the very first in the industry to achieve this."


The system is built along the same principles as the human eye and, as a result, the system's effectiveness is impaired in the dark and in poor weather.

Upgraded Adaptive Cruise Control
In connection with the launch of the Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection, Volvo Cars' Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) has also been upgraded with a queue assist function. The current radar-based ACC is active above speeds of 30 km/h.  The new system has been enhanced to bring the Volvo vehicle to a complete stop to maintain a set time gap to the vehicle in front to enhance driver comfort.


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 and the versatile V50 and V70 wagon. For customers looking for a Volvo vehicle with all-road capability, the company offers the versatile XC70 and XC90. Volvo Canada is also expanding its line-up with the introduction of the new XC60, a crossover with the award-winning City Safety system on the standard equipment list.


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Volvo S60 Concept, Safety, Technology, Concepts
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