Recently, sharp-eyed citizens in Copenhagen have had the opportunity to get a sneak preview of the upcoming, sporty Volvo S60 - which won't be introduced to the world until next year.
A disguised prototype of the new sedan model has been rolling through the streets of the Danish capital in order to test a groundbreaking new safety technology that can detect a pedestrian in front of the car and brake automatically if the driver doesn't react in time, to avoid an accident.
The new technology - Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection - will be introduced together with the all-new Volvo S60 in 2010. Volvo Cars' safety experts have been working with Pedestrian Detection technology for ten years and test cars have been rolling all over the world - most recently in the busy streets of Copenhagen.
"Factors like traffic behaviour, road conditions and climate must be taken into account in the design of the final system. All told we have collected more than 500,000 kilometres of real-life data. We can also use the information from these traffic tests to conduct advanced computer simulations," says Thomas Broberg, Senior Safety Advisor at Volvo Cars.
First a warning, then automatic braking
Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Safety consists of a new dual-mode radar unit integrated into the car's grille, a camera behind the inside rear-view mirror and a central control unit. The radar and camera continuously monitor the road in front of the car. The radar's task is to detect objects and measure the distance to them. The camera determines what type of objects they are.
In an emergency situation, the driver is first alerted by an audible warning together with a flashing light in the windscreen's head-up display. In order to prompt an immediate, intuitive reaction, the visual warning is designed to look like a brake light coming on. If the driver does not respond to the warning and the system assesses that a collision is imminent, the car's brakes are applied with full braking power.
"Active brake deployment requires that the object is confirmed by both the radar and the camera. Thanks to state-of-the-art sensor technology, it is now possible to engage full braking power," explains Thomas Broberg.