Volvo Safety Technology
Volvo develops technology to avoid collisions with wild animals. Hmmm... Stop laughing. This is serious Mum!
Volvo Safety Technology
Volvo Car Corporation is taking the next step in active safety by developing a system that alerts and automatically brakes for animals on the road.
Each year thousands of motorists across the globe are killed in accidents caused by collisions with wild animals.
The aim of the project is to develop a safety system that reduces the risk of collisions with wild animals. The new technology is part of Volvo Car Corporation's vision for 2020 - that nobody should suffer serious injury in a new Volvo.
The new system is based on technologies from Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake and will be launched on the market in a few years' time.
CAMERA AND INFRA-RED LIGHT
"The system consists of two parts - a radar sensor and an infra-red camera that can register the traffic situation," relates Andreas Eidehall, technical expert in the field of active safety systems at Volvo Car Corporation.
As the majority of accidents with animals occur at dusk or after nightfall it is essential for the system to function in the dark.
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.
This is different to the current pedestrian detection system which operates at low speeds specifically for city usage.
The challenge facing the engineers is to teach the system to recognise different animals. A development team from Volvo Car Corporation spent an evening at a Safari park digitally logging film sequences of animals and their various behavioral patterns. On this particular evening the focus was on moose, red deer and fallow deer. By driving very slowly along a trail where fodder had been laid out to attract the animals, data was recorded and will later be used to evaluate and develop the sensor system.
In the first stage, the system will respond to large animals that risk injuring the driver or passengers in an impact, such as moose, deer and reindeer.
IMMENSE RISKS FROM COLLISIONS WITH WILD ANIMALS
Many car drivers are concerned about the risk of collisions with wild animals. There is good reason for this concern. In Sweden alone, more than 40,000 accidents involving wild animals are reported every year. The greatest danger is from collisions with moose.
"In an impact with a moose 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.
The project has been under way for just over a year and a lot of work still remains to be done. Various technologies are currently being evaluated, software is being developed and while the system "learns" to recognise various animals, development is also under way on the necessary decision-making mechanisms, that is to say how and when the protective system is to respond.
"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,'' said Andreas Eidehall.
"During demonstrations of Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, we were often asked about protection from accidents with wild animals. We will present a marketready system within a few years," he said.
FACTS ABOUT ROAD ACCIDENTS WITH WILD ANIMALS:
The number of road accidents involving wild animals in Sweden in 2010 was just over 47,000. Over that period about 7,000 of those accidents were with moose. *
Statistics based on Volvo's accident database reveal that collisions with moose involve a high risk of injury.
The US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has compiled statistics for the period 1993-2007 which showed 2499 people died in road accidents involving animals during this period.
The report also states that the number of road accidents involving wild animals increases by almost 30 percent in November.
The largest insurance company in the USA, State Farm, reports that the number of compensation claims for road accidents involving wild animals rose by 14.9 percent between 2003 and 2008.
* Source: Swedish Advisory Council on Accidents Involving Wild Animals.
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