Safety at Volvo Trucks

In­tel­li­gent and in­no­va­tive safety tech­nolo­gies de­vel­oped by Volvo Trucks prom­ise zero ac­ci­dents

Commercial Vehicle - - WHAT'S INSIDE - Story by: Anirudh Ra­heja

In­tel­li­gent and in­no­va­tive safety tech­nolo­gies de­vel­oped by Volvo Trucks prom­ise zero ac­ci­dents.

Safety is en­demic to the Swedish so­ci­ety. It lays much em­pha­sis on ac­ci­dent preven­tion. If this will help to ex­plain why safety is syn­ony­mous with Volvo, which has a long his­tory of es­tab­lish­ing safety mile­stones, at its Ex­pe­ri­ence Cen­tre in Gothen­burg, Swe­den, re­cently pro­vided an in­sight into the safety tech­nolo­gies it has de­vel­oped. With high com­mit­ment to safety, the Swedish truck gi­ant is work­ing on a plethora of tech­nolo­gies that could lead to con­nected ve­hi­cles, and even­tu­ally to truly au­tonomous ma­chines. Present in 68 coun­tries, in­clud­ing In­dia, Volvo Trucks is pro-ac­tively ex­pand­ing the en­ve­lope of au­to­mo­tive safety. With an eye on ris­ing ve­hic­u­lar pop­u­la­tion, and the re­sult­ing chal­lenges, the com­pany is fo­cus­ing on smart safety tech­nolo­gies like emer­gency brak­ing and col­li­sion warn­ing.

The root of both th­ese

tech­nolo­gies lies in ac­ci­dents where the fol­low­ing ve­hi­cle rear-ends the ve­hi­cle ahead. The re­sults of which are of­ten dis­as­trous. Un­der­lin­ing the phe­nom­e­non of bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture lead­ing to more ve­hi­cles and higher traf­fic speeds, He­lene Mel­lquist, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent, Volvo Trucks In­ter­na­tional, ex­pressed that rear-end col­li­sions ac­count for one-fifth of the over­all ac­ci­dents that in­volve trucks. “Since Novem­ber 2015, it is manda­tory to equip ev­ery two and three­axle trucks with an au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing sys­tem across the Euro­pean Union,” she said. Ac­cord­ing to the EU leg­is­la­tion, the brak­ing sys­tem should be ef­fec­tive in slow­ing down a truck by 10 kmph. The tar­get for next year is 20 kmph. Of the opin­ion that the amount of jerk that will em­anate from such an ex­cer­cise will cause the driver pain. To avoid this, Volvo Trucks, ac­cord­ing to Carl Jo­han Almqvist, Traf­fic and Prod­ucts Safety Di­rec­tor, has de­vel­oped a sys­tem that alerts the driver well in ad­vance. If the driver does not pay heed to the warn­ing, the emer­gency brakes are ap­plied. Men­tioned Almqvist, “If you are driv­ing at 80 kmph when the emer­gency brak­ing sys­tem is de­ployed, there is a need to cut down the speed by more than 20 kmph to avoid a nasty col­li­sion be­cause the ve­hi­cle ahead has come to a stand­still.”

Of­fer­ing a first-hand feel of the tech­nol­ogy on a Volvo FH16 750 car­ry­ing a load of over 40-tonnes, the en­gi­neers of the com­pany ex­plained how the sys­tem works. Notic­ing an­other ve­hi­cle in front, the truck shed speed from 80 kmph to a stand­still in less than 40 m. The brak­ing speed recorded was up to seven-meter per sec­ond square. The sys­tem, with stan­dard ABS de­ployed on both the trac­tor and the trailer, is laced with a cam­era and radar tech­nol­ogy to mon­i­tor the ve­hic­u­lar move­ment ahead of the truck. It is en­gi­neered to brave ad­verse weather con­di­tions. Sens­ing the risk of a col­li­sion, the sys­tem gives out a sharp au­dio warn­ing, closely fol­lowed by an es­ca­lat­ing light­ing com­bi­na­tion. If the driver fails to re­spond, emer­gency brak­ing is ac­ti­vated. At other times, when the sys­tem no­tices a lack of steer­ing move­ment, it en­gages the park­ing brake in five sec­onds to avoid a roll over. To warn the fol­low­ing traf­fic, brakes lights be­gin to flash.

Self-driv­ing refuse truck

The self-driv­ing refuse truck Volvo en­gi­neers have de­vel­oped in as­so­ci­a­tion with Ren­ova aims for safer, and ef­fi­cient refuse han­dling. It pro­vides an in­sight into how the refuse trucks of to­mor­row will be like; how safe they will be. Meant to cre­ate a bet­ter work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for driv­ers, the truck is driven man­u­ally the first time it vis­its a lo­cal­ity. The on-board sys­tem

con­stantly mon­i­tors and maps the route with the help of sen­sors and GPS tech­nol­ogy. The next time the truck vis­its the lo­cal­ity, it knows ex­actly which route to fol­low, and at which bins to stop. At the first stop with the au­to­mated sys­tem ac­ti­vated, the driver climbs out of the cab, goes to the rear of the truck, brings out the wheelie-bin and emp­ties it ex­actly the way it is done with a con­ven­tional refuse truck. When the op­er­a­tion is com­pleted, the truck au­to­mat­i­cally re­verses to the next bin upon re­ceiv­ing the driver’s com­mand. The driver walks the very same route that the truck takes. He thus has a full view of what’s hap­pen­ing in the di­rec­tion of travel al­ways.

By re­vers­ing the truck, the driver can con­stantly re­main close to the com­pactor unit in­stead of hav­ing to re­peat­edly walk be­tween the rear and the cab ev­ery time the truck is on the move. And since the driver doesn’t have to climb in and out of the cab at ev­ery start and stop, there’s less risk of work re­lated in­juries such as strain on the knees and other joints. Car­ry­ing the same ge­netic pat­tern of au­tonomous Volvo trucks op­er­at­ing in Kristineberg mine in north­ern Swe­den, the au­tonomous refuse truck, ac­cord­ing to Almqvist, comes to an im­me­di­ate halt if the sen­sors mon­i­tor­ing the sur­round­ing area no­tice an­other ob­ject in close vicin­ity. The com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tion of such a refuse truck is still some time away. There’s more re­search to be done, and es­pe­cially in the wake of the reg­u­la­tion that does not al­low trucks to be re­versed for rea­sons of safety. Is­sues like

th­ese, and oth­ers need to be ad­dressed. A de­tailed story on the au­tonomous refuse truck is fea­tured ahead in the is­sue.


A con­voy of three Volvo FH trucks, as part of an ex­er­cise to for­ward the cause of ve­hi­cle au­to­ma­tion, un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the Dutch gov­ern­ment, trav­elled from the Volvo head­quar­ters at Gothen­burg to Rot­ter­dam in March 2017. As part of the Euro­pean Union truck pla­toon­ing chal­lenge, the three Volvo trucks were driven through five coun­tries while com­mu­ni­cat­ing wire­lessly with each other through cam­eras and radars. The com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the trucks was car­ried out through G5, a spe­cial fre­quency deal­ing with en­crypted data traf­fic. The fre­quency en­abled ei­ther truck to match the speed of the other trucks, which is es­sen­tial to a pla­toon. With a onesec­ond gap be­tween the two trucks, the rate of ac­cel­er­a­tion and de­cel­er­a­tion matched. A glimpse of how the sys­tem works was had with the cam­era fit­ted on the lead truck send­ing the footage to the two other trucks in the pla­toon. While the other driv­ers con­tin­ued to steer the ve­hi­cle, ac­cel­er­a­tion and brak­ing was au­to­mated. Trav­el­ing at 80 kmph, the trucks in the pla­toon main­tained a

22 m gap be­tween each other. The seem­ingly small gap re­duced wind drag. De­vel­op­ing au­tonomous steer­ing as an ef­fort to reach the goal of a truly self-driv­ing truck, Volvo is aware of the as­so­ci­ated risks; the need for the driv­ers to be ready, and to ac­cept it com­mer­cially.

Vis­i­bil­ity and driver aware­ness

Volvo Trucks is work­ing closely with the Swedish Gov­ern­ment to im­part train­ing to driv­ers through the Swedish Na­tional Road and Trans­port Re­search In­sti­tute (VTI), Lind­hol­men. VTI, in 2011, in­au­gu­rated its Sim IV sim­u­la­tor, which pro­duces a large stroke liner mo­tion in both lat­eral and lon­gi­tu­di­nal di­rec­tions. A sys­tem con­sists of three LCD screens for rear view mir­rors and nine pro­jec­tor mod­ules for 180 de­gree for­ward field view. It is de­signed such that it stud­ies the driver re­ac­tions and im­parts train­ing on ma­neou­vring the truck in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. The num­ber of ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing trucks has fallen as per the Volvo Trucks Safety Re­port for 2017. The re­port has men­tioned that there are still a con­sid­er­able num­ber of driv­ers who do not wear a seat belt. High­light­ing the need to fo­cus on pedes­trian safety, and that of the cy­clists and mo­tor­cy­cles, the re­port has em­pha­sized on ac­tive safety mea­sures like in­creased seat belt us­age, driver aware­ness as well as di­rect and in­di­rect vis­i­bil­ity from the cab, driver coach­ing ser­vices that pro­vide di­rect feed­back to the driver, and Ad­vanced Emer­gency Brak­ing (AEB) sys­tem.

The cur­rent AEB sys­tem as per the leg­is­la­ture, is de­signed to mit­i­gate or avoid rear-end ac­ci­dents. It will have to, in the fu­ture, in­clude sce­nar­ios in­volv­ing pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists (VRUs). This would call for de­tec­tion sys­tems that iden­tify VRUs in close prox­im­ity to a truck. Also, Co­op­er­a­tive In­tel­li­gent Traf­fic Sys­tems (C-ITS) that en­able com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween ve­hi­cles and in­fra­struc­ture. Opined Peter Wells, Head, Volvo Trucks Ac­ci­dent Re­search, “Of­ten there are th­ese mi­nor fac­tors that foster a safe en­vi­ron­ment. They also lead to prod­uct im­prove­ment.” Volvo en­gi­neers have set up cam­eras that com­ple­ment the rear view mir­rors. The com­bi­na­tion of cam­eras and mir­rors is aimed at elim­i­nat­ing the lim­i­ta­tions posed by a hu­man eye. “There are blind spots around the truck for a driver. Dif­fer­ent traf­fic sit­u­a­tions call for them to be dealt ac­cord­ingly. It is a joint re­spon­si­bil­ity of the so­ci­ety to see and be seen to el­e­vate road safety,” averred Almqvist. He con­cluded, that it is im­por­tant to ed­u­cate the young and the adults.

ØCol­li­sion warn­ing sys­tem gives out au­dio and vis­ual warn­ings be­fore emer­gency brakes are ac­ti­vated rid­ing cam­eras and radars.

ØThe au­tonomous refuse truck re­verses so that the driver can re­main close to the com­pactor unit in­stead of hav­ing to walk be­tween the rear and the cab.

⇦ Carl Jo­han Almqvist, Traf­fic and Prod­ucts Safety Di­rec­tor, Volvo Trucks stresses that it is a joint re­spon­si­bil­ity of the so­ci­ety to el­e­vate road safety.

⇩ Move­ment of cargo through pla­toon­ing can re­duce fuel con­sump­tion by 25 per cent.

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