GÖTEBORG (December 1, 2006) -- Volvo Car Corporation today unveiled a new system that could help drivers avoid or minimize the effects of low-speed collisions that have become common in urban traffic. The system, dubbed City Safety, is designed to prepare the car’s braking system to help the driver avoid a possible rear-end collision with a vehicle in front, and apply the brakes should the driver fail to react in time.
When City Safety becomes available in Volvo vehicles in approximately two years, the company believes it will have taken a step that could help drivers avoid half of all rear-end collisions.
“The system offers benefits to all involved,” says Ingrid Skogsmo, director of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “For the occupants of the car in front, the risk of whiplash injuries is avoided or reduced. What’s more, the system can help reduce or sometimes even eliminate the cost of repairs to both vehicles.”
If the vehicle in front suddenly brakes and the City Safety system recognizes that a collision is likely, it will pre-charge the braking system to help the driver brake and steer away from a potential collision. Should a collision be imminent, the City Safety system will activate the vehicle’s brakes.
Based on the company’s real-world safety research, Volvo Cars has accumulated statistics that show 75 per cent of all reported rear-end collisions occur at speeds below 30 km/h. As a result, the Volvo City Safety system will only be active up to 30 km/h. As well, it will have two distinct priorities, depending on vehicle speed:
If the relative speed difference between the Volvo vehicle and the vehicle in front is below 15 km/h, the system will pre-charge the braking system to help the driver avoid the collision entirely.
Between 15 and 30 km/h, the focus is instead on reducing speed as much as possible before an impact.
Optical radar monitors traffic
The City Safety system keeps a watchful eye on traffic in front of the vehicle with the help of an optical radar system integrated into the windscreen near the mounting bracket for the rear-view mirror. The optical radar system (also known as LLIDAR or laser radar) utilizes invisible optical wave lengths near the infrared spectrum to monitor the road for vehicles that are up to 6 metres ahead. City Safety operates at speeds of up to 30 km/h and the system is programmed to respond if the vehicle in front is either at a standstill or is moving in the same direction as the Volvo vehicle.
By monitoring the distance between the vehicle in front and City Safety-equipped Volvo, the system runs calculations 50 times per second to determine what braking force is required to avoid a collision. If the calculated braking force exceeds a given level without the driver responding, a collision is considered imminent. In such a case, City Safety helps avoid or reduce the consequences of a collision by automatically activating the vehicle’s brakes and switching off the throttle.
While City Safety will operate equally well in daylight or at night, it has the same limitations as all conventional radar systems; the sensor’s capability can be limited by dirt, fog, mist, snow or heavy rain. It is therefore essential to keep the windscreen free from dirt, ice and snow. If the sensor is blocked, the driver is alerted via the vehicle’s dashboard information display to clean the windscreen.
“It is important to emphasize that the system does not absolve the driver from driving with adequate safety margins in order to avoid collisions,” explains Skogsmo. “The automatic braking function is only activated when the system assesses that a collision is imminent. The system then steps in to limit the consequences of – or in some cases totally avoid – the imminent collision.”
Preventive system in focus
Volvo Cars has previously presented active safety systems that help the driver avoid and reduce damage and injuries from collisions. The 2007 Volvo S80, which will go on-sale in Canada in early 2007, offers a Collision Warning and Brake Support system to alert the driver via audible and visual signals if the distance to the car in front is declining so quickly that an impact is likely. At the same time, the S80’s braking system is pre-charged so that braking is as effective as possible in this emergency situation.
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 44 Volvo automobile retailers across the country. The company’s product range includes the elegant C70 hardtop convertible, the versatile V70 wagon, the S60 sport sedan, the compact and sporty S40 and V50, and an XC-line of vehicles that includes the rugged XC70 and the award-winning XC90 sport utility vehicle. For 2007, the company is introducing two new models: the second-generation S80 luxury flagship sedan and the stylish and sporty C30.
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