Inter Law – whiplash info

Volvo has won the “Traffic Safety Achievement Award” at the World Traffic Safety Symposium held in New York.

One of the main safety features that won many plaudits was the City Safety system that has been developed by Volvo. The system was designed to prevent low-speed collisions which are most common in urban city traffic. Volvo have high hopes that the system could eliminate whiplash.

“City Safety is yet another example of Volvo’s aim to utilise real world traffic situations to develop solutions to prevent accidents. It is extremely gratifying that we are now being acknowledged with this prestigious award,” said Jonas Ekmark, head of preventive safety at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre.

Rear-end collisions at relatively low speeds are the most common cause of whiplash injuries. The City Safety system is designed to stop Volvo drivers from crashing into the back of car’s ahead. Along with other cars the system will also detect other potential hazards like pedestrians.

The system uses senses to monitor the traffic ahead. A laser sensor is built into the windscreen’s upper section at the same height as the rear view mirror. It can detect vehicles or people that are up to 6 metres in front of the car’s front bumper. City Safety is programmed to react to things in front that are either stationary or moving in the same direction as the car itself. On the basis of the distance to the object in
front and the speed of the car itself, the system makes 50 calculations a second to determine what braking speed is required to avoid a collision. If the calculated braking force exceeds a given level without the driver reacting, it interprets this as an imminent danger of a collision. City Safety then helps to avoid or reduce the consequences of a collision by preparing the car’s brakes or braking automatically and disabling the accelerator.

If the car approaches a pedestrian, a red warning light will come on first on the windscreen’s head-up display and a warning signal will sound. This helps the driver to react, and in most cases an accident can be avoided.

If the risk of a collision increases further, assisted panic braking is activated to provide more pressure when the brakes are applied. If the driver still doesn’t brake, and the collision is imminent, the car’s brakes are activated immediately.

The system is ideally designed for lower speed activity and although it has the capacity to reduce a car’s speed by approximately 15mph, it will be unable to prevent collisions at much higher speeds.

City Safety has the same limitations as all optical systems in that the detection capacity can be limited by fog, snow or heavy rain. It is therefore necessary to keep the windscreen free of dirt, ice or snow. If the sensor is blocked, the driver is advised via the car’s information display to clean the area. The system works equally well during the day and night.

“It is important to underline that the system does not relieve the driver of the responsibility from maintaining a safe distance to avoid a collision. The automatic braking system does not react until it considers that a collision is imminent. The system therefore helps to limit the consequences of or, in some cases, avoiding an imminent collision,” said Jonas Ekmark.

With 75 per cent of all reported collisions thought to occur at speeds up to 30 km/h, with many under 20km/h not reported to insurers, the new technology could prevent a lot of accidents.

The City Safety is just part of the new technological developments that Volvo is developing in the next generation of car safety measure. Next to be introduced is collision avoidance steering by auto steering.
Collision avoidance by auto steering is a further development of lane departure warning, which uses a camera to monitor the car’s position between lane markers. If a car wanders across any of the lane markers without using the indicator, the driver is warned by an audible signal.

Collision avoidance by auto steering is significantly more advanced. The system is designed to help prevent a frontal collision caused by temporary distraction by using both a camera and radar to monitor the position of the car itself and the oncoming traffic.

If the car is about to move into the wrong lane and the system detects that an oncoming vehicle is on a collision course, the car is automatically steered back to a safe position in the original lane. The high demands for reliability mean that Volvo experts are still assessing which degrees of steering wheel intervention are relevant and the exact speed range the system can operate within.

If this all sounds like something from the futuristic film I Robot then Volvo’s next big project goes even further cars that talk to each other.

Cars that can communicate with other vehicles and the surrounding traffic environment should enhance the potential for safer driving and fewer traffic accidents. For communication to work, it is necessary to have a standard “language” which makes it possible for all vehicles to talk to each other irrespective of make. There are currently several international projects that endeavour to contribute to this standardisation.

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