Bob is a real stand-up kind of a guy. Standing up is, more or less, all he does. Usually in the middle of the road, so grinning hooligans can aim their car at him.
Being a blow-up manikin, our friend Bob isn’t exactly what you’d call skilled labour: his sole task is to show that Pedestrian Detection will auto-brake your Volvo to a complete stop before hitting him. Unless, of course, you’re going waaaay too fast (well, we did say they were hooligans).
Demonstrated at the launch of the Volvo S60 in the southern Cape this week, Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake is world-first technology. It’s a development of the company’s radar-based City Safety auto-braking system. City Safety avoids low-speed rear-enders by stopping the car if the driver hasn’t reacted to an obstacle up ahead. Pedestrian Detection uses a combination of a radar unit in the grille and a camera camera fitted near the interior rear-view mirror. The radar detects obstacles up ahead; the camera image helps the central processor determine what that obstacle is – and can activate full braking power if the driver doesn’t respond in time. Being wide-angle, the radar can even pick up a pedestrian stepping off the kerb. Programmed into the technology is the ability to recognise a pedestrian's pattern of movement and the likelihood of stepping into the road in front of the car. That holds good for moving objects as small as 80 cm high – in other words, even little Bobs and Bobbinas.
Inside the car, first you get an audible warning combined with a flashing light in the windscreen's head-up display (to provoke an instinctive reaction, the warning is designed to look like a brake light). Meanwhile, the brakes are pre-charged. If there’s no driver response, and it’s decided that Bob is about to bite the dust, full braking power is applied automatically at speeds up to 35 km/h. At higher speeds, auto-braking still applies, though clearly the car won’t be able to stop before impact.