Volvo Collision Warning System Hits The Brakes When a Driver Won’t

Posted on January 24, 2013

Automakers continue to introduce stunning technology that would have seemed like the stuff of science fiction even just a few years ago.  Automobiles and roadside objects can now communicate with each other to detect dangerous circumstances, dashboards can let a driver know when he or she is too sleepy to safely drive, and Google is even in the process of rolling out vehicles that drive themselves without any human input.

It’s a brave new world of auto technology, and one such system has us particularly excited for what it could mean for road safety.  The tech comes from the always safety-conscious Volvo, specifically their truck division.  The technology at work aims to make collisions where a tractor trailer isn’t able to stop in time to avoid a potential hazard a thing of the past.

Known as Collision Warning with Emergency Brake, the onboard computer actually uses radar to detect if an upcoming vehicle or stationary object would pose a danger to the big rig behind it if the brakes aren’t pressed in time.  The system can actually take over for the big rig driver and activate emergency braking procedures if the driver shows no inclination to do so himself or herself.  Volvo says that the technology can work up to 43 miles per hour, and in the video demonstration below, the truck is reportedly carrying 40 tons of freight.  The demo is meant to simulate actual road experiences.

As you’ll see if you click play, the system kicks in just when it looks like a collision is going to be unavoidable.  From the outside, it appears that the truck is stopping on a dime thanks to the driver’s input.  But from the camera placed on the interior of the truck’s cab, you get to see all that goes into executing that life-saving maneuver.

First, a series of lights will blink on to warn the driver that a collision could be imminent if the brakes aren’t applied immediately.  If the driver neglects to heed that warning, the system doesn’t relent.  Instead, it activates a series of beeps to further get the driver’s eyes and mind back on the road.  At this point, a collision is but moments away and the operator should be pressing hard on the brakes.  If braking still doesn’t occur, that’s when the computer has enough.  The emergency braking system is activated and the truck grinds to a halt, hopefully before it comes into contact with the leading vehicle.

These trucks might be on the road right now, as Volvo brought the system to the market at some point last year.  Keep your eyes peeled, as the system could end up saving your life.

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