Volvo is developing a safety system that can alert and automatically brake for animals in the road. Due to launch a the next few years, the technology will use the same radar and camera detection technology used for Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, available in the Volvo S60, V60, XC60, V70, XC70 and S80.
The development project aims to create a safety system that reduces the risk of collisions with wild animals, and is part of the Volvo Car Corporation's vision for 2020 - that nobody shall be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo.
"We can see in our accident statistics that this is an important area to prioritise. What is more, we know that there is considerable market interest in this type of safety system. During demonstrations of Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, we were often asked about protection from accidents with wild animals." Says Andreas Eidehall, technical expert in the field of active safety systems at Volvo Car Corporation.
"The system consists of two parts - a radar sensor and an infra-red camera that can register the traffic situation," relates Andreas Eidehall. "As most collisions with wild animals take place at dawn, at dusk and during the dark winter months, it is essential for the system to also function in these conditions. The camera monitors the road ahead and if an animal is within range the system alerts the driver with an audible signal. If the driver does not react, the brakes are automatically applied."
"The goal is for the system to function at the normal rural highway speeds. In cases in which it cannot help the driver entirely avoid the collision, the system will slow down the car sufficiently to help reduce the force of impact and thus of serious injuries," continues Andreas Eidehall.
Engineers face the problem of programming the system to recognise different animals, with a development team spending an evening at a safari park to digitally log film sequences and behavioural patterns of animals including moose and deer. Driving slowly along trails where animal attractants had been laid out, the data recorded can be later analysed to help develop the sensor system.
The first stage of the system will respond to large animals that pose a risk to driver and passengers on impact, such as a horse or deer.
In Sweden, more than 40,000 accidents involving animals are reported each year.
"In an impact with a large animal there is a relatively high risk of personal injury since it is common for the animal to end up on or roll across the front of the car and its windscreen," says Andreas Eidehall.
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