Walk on the safer side
Hit-tech Volvos will curb pedestrian deaths, writes Paul Gover in Portugal
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.