Walk on the safer side

Hit-tech Volvos will curb pedes­trian deaths, writes Paul Gover in Por­tu­gal

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

ASYS­TEM that brakes au­to­mat­i­cally to avoid pedes­tri­ans will be fit­ted for the first time in the com­ing Volvo S60. Pedes­trian De­tec­tion is likely to be stan­dard on the T6 flag­ship model next year, though it could be­come stan­dard across the S60 range in Aus­tralia.

The sys­tem was pre­viewed to the cars­Guide in Swe­den last year, so we know it works against life-sized dum­mies. With the ar­rival of the new S60 it starts its global roll­out.

It uses a com­bi­na­tion of cam­eras and a high­speed com­puter to monitor the road ahead at up to 35km/h, con­stantly search­ing for pedes­tri­ans and track­ing them for po­ten­tial col­li­sions.

If it senses an im­mi­nent im­pact it first warns the driver with vis­ual and au­di­ble alarms, be­fore au­to­mat­i­cally ap­ply­ing max­i­mum brak­ing force.

‘‘The pro­por­tion of pedes­trian fa­tal­i­ties is high to­day and our technology will play a ma­jor role in re­duc­ing it,’’ Volvo Cars se­nior safety ad­viser Thomas Broberg says.

Volvo says 14 per cent of Euro­pean traf­fic fa­tal­i­ties are pedes­tri­ans, with 11 per cent in the US and a wor­ry­ing 26 per cent in China.

Volvo has been work­ing on the sys­tem for more than five years. Test cars have been sent all around the world.

Volvo does not yet know how the sys­tem will be ac­cepted by S60 buy­ers, or how much they are pre­pared to pay.

‘‘We are plan­ning to sell 10 per cent of that pack­age glob­ally. That is quite a lot for us,’’ S60 pro­gram di­rec­tor To­mas Ahlborg says.

‘‘We are not just do­ing this be­cause we are so nice to peo­ple. It’s a very per­sonal de­ci­sion, whether you want to spend your money sav­ing lives or buy­ing some­thing shiny.’’ next year and hopes that the S60-V60 com­bi­na­tion will fi­nally give Volvo a sell­ing point against tra­di­tional mid-sized pace-set­ters — the BMW 3 Se­ries, the C-Class Mercedes-Benz and the Audi A4. He con­firms there will also be an S60 with an R De­sign up­grade for 2011, al­though he will not dis­cuss any po­ten­tial en­gine tweak­ing or de­tails of the car’s sus­pen­sion or body pack­age. ‘‘We will, some­time along the fu­ture — I can­not tell you when, but we will have an R De­sign,’’ he says. ‘‘And it will in­clude a new chas­sis set­ting as well.’’ He re­fuses to con­firm the use of steer­ing wheel pad­dles for the au­to­matic gear­box, a no­table ab­sence in the sporty new S60. ‘‘You never know,’’ Ahlborg says.

Cru­cial step: the Volvo Pedes­trian sys­tem scans for walk­ers and jams on the brakes if nec­es­sary.

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