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Techies 2010 - Best Car Safety System: Volvo - Pedestrian Detection with Full Autobrake

Date: 24 August 2010

Car safety, alongside environmental considerations, is at the forefront of manufacturers' minds, particularly with safety rating outfit Euro NCAP introducing a new rating for safety technologies.

Volvo continues to be leaps and bounds ahead of other carmakers. Last year, it won the Techies car safety award for its City Safety system; this time around, it takes it a step further with its Pedestrian Detection with Full Autobrake technology.

A world first, the radar and camera-based system can detect pedestrians in front of the car, warn if anyone walks out into its path and then automatically activates the car's braking power if the driver fails to respond in time.

The technology consists of a radar unit fitted into the car's grille, a camera fitted in front of the interior rear-view mirror and a central control unit. The radar's task is to detect any object in front of the car and to determine the distance to it. The camera determines what type of object it is.

It can avoid pedestrian collision at speeds up to 21mph if the driver does not react in time, which is pertinent when you consider that half of all pedestrian accidents occur at speeds below 15mph.

At higher speeds, the focus is on cutting the car's speed as much as possible prior to impact to reduce the risk of serious injury. For instance, if speed is cut from 31mph to 15mph, Pedestrian Detection with Full Autobrake is expected to reduce fatality risk by as much as 20% and, in some cases, up to 85%. The system is available on the new S60, and should spread across the range.

Mercedes-Benz deserves its Highly Commended accolade for its Attention Assist system, standard on new E-Class models, which detects drowsiness at speeds over 50mph. It uses 70 different aspects of the car's behaviour to ascertain the onset of driver drowsiness. If the way the car is being driven fits with the profile of a tired driver then an audible and visual warning signal will recommend taking a break.