The new Volvo S60 concept unveiled ahead of the Detroit Auto Show later this month features a revolutionary new driver safety system which brakes the car automatically to avoid a collision with a pedestrian.
The technology, know as Collision Warning with Full Brake, monitors the road ahead using both radar sensors and a camera. It recognises not only other vehicles, but pedestrians who step into the path of the car. The system will be available in the production version of the S60 four-door coupe which is due to enter the showrooms in late 2009.
"Up until now, we have focussed on helping the driver avoid collisions with other vehicles. Now we are taking a giant step forward with a system that also boosts safety for unprotected road-users," said Thomas Broberg, safety expert at Volvo Cars.
In an emergency, the driver receives an audible warning and a signal designed to look like a red brake light flashes up in the windscreen's head-up display. If the driver does not respond to the warning, the system "assumes" that a collision is imminent and
applies the car's full braking power automatically.
Volvo says the main aim is still for the initial warning to be sufficient for the driver to brake or manoeuvre away from the hazard. Full automatic braking is an emergency measure that is only activated when the collision is unavoidable.
Accident experts say pedestrian survival in serious crashes increases dramatically when the vehicle's speed drops from 50 kilometres per hour to 30 km/h.
The Volvo S60 Concept foreshadows the production version and is powered by a four-cylinder, 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine which turns out 180 horsepower.