Swedish car manufacturer – Volvo, has often been at the forefront of implementing new safety measures in cars, but this year they are going even further, and introducing a host of new technological systems, that aim to make driving a whole lot safer. Some of their measures are simple updates on existing functions, but others are truly groundbreaking, and Volvo say that they aim to make a ‘crashproof car’ by 2020.
So what are these new features and are other car manufacturers likely to follow suit? The most exciting of all the new technologies Volvo are introducing to their new cars is the Pedestrian Detection system. This is a totally new technology that detects when a pedestrian steps out into the road in front of the car. If the driver has not seen the pedestrian, and does not therefore have enough time to respond, the car can warn and automatically apply the brakes.
Similarly, there is a Cyclist Detection system and boffins at the Volvo innovation centre are currently working on an Animal Detection system. The Cyclist Detection facility could help to prevent fatal accidents as Volvo says vehicles fitted with the system will be able to detect threats, which include a cyclist suddenly swerving out into a car’s path. If such a collision risk was imminent, an alarm would sound and the car’s brakes would be fully applied.
As for the Animal Detection system, a spokesperson for Volvo, told the BBC, that the firm’s engineers were now working on a new version of the pedestrian and cyclists system, as part of its 2020 programme, which would be able to detect animals. The team studied animals at a wildlife safari park, where they laid out food to attract them to study their behaviour.
“The aim is to avoid collisions with horses and deer for example,” said Chris Mullord. “But there’s no firm release date yet.”
And to further help pedestrians who may be involved in a car accident, Volvo is also offering the option of an airbag under the bonnet of its V40 model. The V40 models be become available in May, with the first inflatable airbags under the bonnet, which will fill up with air if the front bumpers detect that they have come into contact with a cyclist or pedestrian. The airbags have been designed to minimise damage to the accident victim’s head, and cover around a third of the car’s windscreen.
There is also the option of a Cruise Control setting, which allows the driver to keep pace with the car it is following in slow traffic. The way it works is that the engine, brakes and steering wheel will follow the car in front and react accordingly. This is designed so that the driver does not have to constantly watch the road in slow-moving traffic, such as highway traffic jams.
Finally, there is the all important system of the Intersection Support, which uses the car’s already-existent radar to detect when someone is about to run a red light while you’re entering an intersection. For example, if a car in line is about to turn left, in that situation, the system would sense the approaching object and brake to avoid it.
Although many of these new technologies are updates on existing software, they will not come cheaply, as Volvo have stated that motorists who want the added safety measures are facing an additional bill of around £1,850 to buy it as a part of a package.
But in the UK alone, according to the Department for Transport, 6,040 pedestrians, 3,270 cyclists and 5,440 motorcyclists were killed or seriously injured in this country, between October 2011 and September 2012. And these figures had increased on the previous year by 4-8%.
All images courtesy Volvo
Source: BBC News