Volvo, the Swedish automaker long-known for its safety innovations, has taken to applying its passenger car safety systems to commercial semi trucks.
The new Volvo FH semi recently demonstrated a collision warning and emergency brake system. The system uses radar and a camera to detect vehicles in front of the truck and alert the driver of danger with a flashing light and alarm tone. If the driver does not respond to a potential rear-end situation, the system will apply the brakes to avoid a crash.
While the video below shows just how well the system can work, keep in mind that the tractor trailer is fully loaded with 40 tons of cargo.
Rear-end collisions account for a significant proportion of road accidents. In order to address this problem, Volvo Trucks has developed Collision Warning with Emergency Brake - an advanced emergency braking system which also includes early collision warning. The braking system, which is available on the new Volvo FH Series, has been developed to support the driver so that the majority of these rear-end collisions can be avoided or mitigated.
"We began by asking 'what really is the problem?'. The answer is inattention. If you watched the traffic ahead of you the whole time, you wouldn't need systems like these," says Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic & Product Safety Director, Volvo Trucks.
The new system combines a radar and a camera that work together to identify and monitor vehicles in front. The system is designed to deal with both stationary and moving vehicles and can prevent a collision with a moving target at relative speeds of up to 70 km/h. When the system detects a vehicle that the truck will hit at its current speed, the warning system activates a constant red light in the windscreen in order to bring the driver's attention back to the road.
"We don't want to take over from drivers because we believe they are in the best position to respond, as they might be able to safely drive around the vehicle," says Almqvist.
However, if the truck fails to detect any reaction from the driver, such as steering or braking, the system upgrades to a flashing red light and a beeping sound. If there is still no reaction, the system applies the brakes gently. When all this fails, the system activates the emergency braking system and does everything possible to bring the truck to a complete stop.
"In the vast majority of cases, the initial warning signals will attract the driver's attention. And in the rare case that they don't, the emergency braking system will still help prevent a serious accident," says Carl Johan Almqvist.
In Europe, emergency braking systems will be a legal requirement in new trucks by November 2015.
Animation of Collision Warning with Emergency Brake on YouTube