Volvo's "City Safety" system can help to avoid accident... Volvo's "City Safety" system can help to avoid accidents (Volvo).
A new study seems to validate that a radar-based collision avoidance system in a vehicle will substantially lower a driver's chance of being in an accident.

Swedish automaker Volvo has such a system on its XC60 crossover, called "City Safety." The system uses infra-red laser sensors to spot likely accidents about to happen at speeds ranging from 2 mph to 19 mph. If the driver fails to react in time to avoid the accident, the system automatically kicks in and activates the car's brakes.

The Volvo has been involved in 27% fewer property damage events than other mid-sized luxury SUVs, according to a report released by the Highway Loss Data Institute. The XC60 was also involved in 51% fewer "bodily injury" incidents. The real validation for the Volvo system, though, came from the finding that the XC60 was 19% less likely than other Volvos to be involved in an accident, thus putting aside the idea that the numbers would favor Volvo over other brands because buyers of the Swedish cars tend to drive more cautiously than other drivers.

This is exactly what the company needed to help overcome the spectacular failures it had testing its avoidance radar system for media in 2010. The car avoidance system failed in front of Swedish journalists in May, resulting in a Swedish news piece showing a car smashing into the back of a truck. Even without subtitles, it's clear the piece was an embarrassment.

In September, videos of cars plowing down mannequins meant to represent pedestrians hit the Internet, resulting in a lot of snarky laughter and doubt that Volvo's safety systems work as intended.



Volvo has long marketed its brand around safety, pitching the cars as being better protectors of drivers and their occupants than other brands, so the findings, the first of their kind to validate such systems, is a boon to their image.

The survey by the Highway Loss Data Institute suggests that collision avoidance systems can help distracted motorists. Driver error accounts for 90 percent of all crashes. According to Volvo, 75% of all crashes occur at speeds below 18 mph.

Later this year, the Institute plans to study the effectiveness of collision avoidance systems designed for higher speeds.

How does it work? AOL Autos has demonstrated the technology at auto shows. The system uses laser and radar to detect cars up to 20 feet ahead by picking up reflections from tail-lamps, glass, license plates and even the vehicle's paint. If a driver has not applied the brakes, the system does it automatically.

The "technology package" in which the system is offered on the XC60 costs $2,100.

Other vehicles and car companies have systems similar to Volvo's that try to accomplish the same thing.

Ford developed a radar-based active collision avoidance system that combines auditory warnings, like chimes ringing, with braking to help reduce the incidence and severity of accidents. The Collision Warning part of the system uses radar to detect moving vehicles and stationary objects ahead of the driver, and sounds an alarm when the computer detects the driver not reacting.

Other models that offer collision avoidance systems include the BMW 5-Series and 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz E Class and S Class, Acura RL and Infiniti FX, Lincoln MKT and MKS and Ford Taurus.


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  • 216 Comments
      eulerckt
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can't help but remember the F-111...swingwing aircraft with terrain avoidance radar. They could fly extremely close to the ground...the system responded MUCH faster than the human pilot...until it quit working. That's why the early model earned the nickname 'Aardvark'. Thest high-tech devices are manufactured to European electronic standards (no-lead solder). Long term reliability is poor due to corrosion and the development of conductive whiskers. Check out the warranty on your newer cars....50000 miles bumper to bumper (except for electronics), 100000 miles drive train, 36000 miles for electronics . If you people think you need one of these...you probably shouldn't be driving.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @eulerckt
        While an accident is not something I look forward to .... I sure can use all the help I can to avoid one...
      Robert
      • 3 Years Ago
      my S550 has this greaT FEATURE
      • 3 Years Ago
      nothing should have control over the car but me. just wait untill these things have been on the road for 5-10 years, and the system shorts out and your car suddenly hits the breaks by itself at 60MPH.
      • 3 Years Ago
      All these comments about the systems, and not once has anyone commented about the horrendous driving skills of the reporter in the video. Not only was he focused on the fact that there was a camera recording him, but he was constantly seen driving with one hand on the wheel and at one point, driving with his knee. But...it's OK. He's a professional.
      grawtown
      • 3 Years Ago
      If your to stupid to drive you shouldn't be driving!!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @grawtown
        I'm not stupid grawtown!! But I have epilepesy I wonder if this would work for us stupid people!!
      alfredschrader
      • 3 Years Ago
      I invented an air bag that deploys from the bumpers...protects the car, rear passengers, and the cargo...Al-
      pucpaul
      • 3 Years Ago
      Now they need to come up with something to stop the jack ass whose about to rear end you!
      eulerckt
      • 3 Years Ago
      Another baby sitter for Public Transportation Poster Children.
      J.J.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Will they need a sticker? 'WARNING THIS CAR STOPS AJTOMATICALLY'
      vraczok
      • 3 Years Ago
      What happens on ice? When a deer or car shoots out in front of me? will the car lock up the wheels and send me spinning into the ditch or force me into a collision? I like to keep my wheels moving especially if I'm rolling to a stop and discover ice at the stop line and I'm about to slide into the car in front, at least I can maintain some control and aim for a snowbank.
        mitchmc
        • 3 Years Ago
        @vraczok
        ....and that is what ABS is for. It prevents the wheels from locking up so that you will be less likely to lose control. Instead of aiming for a snowbank, with ABS, you can usually safely go around the obstacle or be able to stop before an accident happens.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @mitchmc
          something interesting about abs. They did an experiment with taxi drivers. They used it and the safety on it, they just went faster. This ate up the advantage it had. :(
        • 3 Years Ago
        @vraczok
        Read the damn article! The feature only works between 2 and 19mph and is intended more for city driving than highway driving. When was the last time you saw a deer in NYC?!
      • 3 Years Ago
      You know what else works good? Actually paying attention. Put down the phones, the makeup, the snacks and look. Maybe they can invent a machine that will replace me entirely so I never have to leave the couch,
        sam
        • 3 Years Ago
        OH MY GOD some one with some common sense. I have been a profeesional truck driver for 10 years, no major or preventables, only one b.s. ticket. the truth shall set you free.
      dehsulf
      • 3 Years Ago
      Too bad the average can't afford this feature.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dehsulf
        Again, I say, 'really?' Who the eff would want to spend that kind of money on something that only works in CITY driving between 2-19MPH?! It's like saying the car manufacturer's are going to charge another 2k to have a little LED in your rear-view mirror that's going to tell you the time, temperature, and direction of travel. I swear, most people just want to complain about anything!
        gr8bsn
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dehsulf
        This average American wants nothing to do with this feature. This would be the first fuse pulled from the car.
        wendygoerl
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dehsulf
        Today, maybe. Tomorrow you'll probably get stuck whith it whether you want it or not. And I notice there's nothing in this article about the car recognizing parking situations, or bumper-to-bumper traffic, or other legitimate reasons to be moving very close to something in front of it.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dehsulf
        Again, I say, 'really?' Who the eff would want to spend that kind of money on something that only works in CITY driving between 2-19MPH?! It's like saying the car manufacturer's are going to charge another 2k to have a little LED in your rear-view mirror that's going to tell you the time, temperature, and direction of travel. I swear, most people just want to complain about anything!
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