S60 Aggressive, but otherwise safe
Volvo calls its new S60 the most dynamic and aggressive Volvo to date. Due to be launched locally late next year, it will be shown in public for the first time at the Geneva Show in March.
But it’s still a Volvo, so it will herald some innovative new safety technology. Pedestrian Detection is a groundbreaking safety feature that can detect pedestrians in front of the car and brake automatically to a standstill under 25 km/h if the driver does not react in time. This goes one further than the acclaimed City Safety system, which auto-brakes if it detects a vehicle ahead.
The new technology – its full name is Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection – has been under development for a decade, logging half a million real-life test kilometres. It was tested most recently in Denmark in a disguised S60 prototype.
How it works
A new wideangle dual-mode radar unit integrated into the car’s grille continually detects objects and measures the distance to them. Meanwhile, a camera behind the inside rear-view mirror determines what the objects are (picture, above right). A central control unit decodes inputs to determine if a collision is imminent.
”Previous stages were developed to help the driver avoid collisions with other vehicles. Now we are taking a giant step forward with a function that also boosts safety for unprotected road-users. What is more, we are advancing from 50 per cent to full automatic braking power,” says Volvo safety specialist Thomas Broberg. The company’s long-term vision is to design cars that do not crash, and their aim is that by 2020 no-one should be killed or seriously injured in a Volvo.
In an emergency situation, there’s an audible warning and a flashing light in the head-up display – for intuitive reaction, it resembles a brake light. If there’s insufficient reaction from the driver, full braking power can be applied automatically.
Although road accident rates in EU capital cities are much lower than South Africa’s, the proportion of pedestrian road deaths is similar at 43 per cent. It’s been calculated that the risk of a pedestrian being killed in an accident at 50 km/hour is 85 per cent higher than at 25 km/h. The new Volvo system is capable of reducing collision force by 75 per cent. It also boosts the car’s ability to avoid rear-enders, compared with Volvo’s existing City Safety system, at relative speed differences of up to 25 km/h between vehicles.