Gizmag has written a few pieces about the forthcoming Volvo S60 which is due to be released in 2010. In this installment we look at the newly-developed pedestrian alert system being incorporated into the stylish sedan. So, put aside your thoughts on the sleek Scandanavian-inspired lines, the visionary interior, the comfort and power - which has been described by Volvo as “a thrilling blend of drama and sensuality” - and delve into the realm of safety for those in and around the vehicle.
The Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake feature detects pedestrians in front of the vehicle and automatically applies the brakes if the driver fails to do so quickly enough.
The video below shows the new model clad in bolt on guards which make it look a bit like a cross between a staff car and an armored troop carrier. But what interested us was the progression in the company’s driver and pedestrian safety features.
"The sporty design gives visual promise of an enthusiastic drive and I can assure you here and now that the all-new S60 will live up to that promise. The driving properties are better than in any previous Volvo. The car's technology will also help you to be a better and safer driver," says Stephen Odell.
Volvo has always prided itself on its high levels of safety, something the company has traded on as its point of differentiation for many years. In the S60, Volvo has reached beyond protecting the occupants in case of a crash to prevention of a vehicle/pedestrian accident.
The safety system, called Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, can detect a pedestrian who steps out into the path of the car and, should the driver not respond quickly enough, automatically apply the car's full braking power.
"Up until now, we have focused on helping the driver avoid collisions with other vehicles. Now we are taking a giant step forward with a system that also boosts safety for unprotected road-users. New sensor technology also makes it possible to advance from 50 percent to full automatic braking power. To our knowledge, none of our competitors have made such progress in this area," explains Thomas Broberg, safety expert at Volvo Cars.
Many pedestrian incidents happen in busy cities during high traffic times when cars are traveling at relatively slow speeds.
"Our aim is that this new technology should help the driver avoid collisions with pedestrians at speeds below 20kmh. 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 Thomas Broberg.
Decreasing the speed of the vehicle from, say, 50kmh to 30kmh dramatically reduces the severity of impact and improves the survival rate of pedestrians involved in the accident.
This technology is also highly beneficial in the event of rear-end impacts with other vehicles. Volvo says that studies indicate that half of all drivers who drive into another vehicle from behind do not brake prior to the collision.
The company believes that in such cases, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake would help entirely avoid a collision if the relative speed difference between the two vehicles is less than 25kmh.
In an emergency situation, the driver first gets an audible warning together with a flashing light in the windscreen's head-up display that looks like a brake light in front of the vehicle, which is designed to prompt an immediate, intuitive reaction.
Should the driver fail to respond to the warning and the system assesses that a collision is imminent, the car's full braking power is activated automatically. Volvo says the main aim is still for the initial warning to be sufficient for the driver to brake or maneuver away from the hazard. Full automatic braking is an emergency measure that is only activated when the collision is imminent.
Volvo Cars' Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) has now been upgraded to include a queue assist function. The radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control maintains the set time gap to the vehicle in front all the way down to standstill, making this comfort-enhancing system usable in slow-moving queues with repeated starting and stopping.
So, with all these features and the myriad of other we have covered previously, plus the new ones we will bring you as they come to hand, the S60 looks to have much appeal for the safety-conscious driver who doesn’t necessarily want to be publicly appear to be one.
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