A car with sensors that will be able to detect potential collisions and then take necessary action to avoid an accident is currently being developed by Volvo.
Volvo’s head of government affairs Anders Eugensson has made a bold statement, saying: “Our vision is that no one is killed or injured by a new Volvo in 2020."
Although the car won’t be on sale until 2020, it is hoped that some of the technology, that has the potential to save lives, will be available to put in new vehicles from 2014.
Features of the car include the ability to detect animals, recognition of road signs, automatic braking at junctions, self-parking, collision avoidance with other cars, a blind spot radar alert, and pedestrian detection – which deploys an external airbag if a collision is expected.
Progress seems to be going well for Volvo’s attempt to produce the first autonomous car available for consumers, as Mr Eugensson said:
“We have tested prototypes on thousands of test drives on public roads in Spain and on the company test track in western Sweden.”
The technology is not the major problem, as it has mostly been developed already. Public acceptance is one issue, but so are issues of liability. For example, if the car does become involved in an accident somehow, who takes responsibility? Is it the driver or the manufacturer?
Although this idea may seem completely out of this world, industry experts were quick to point out that the same was thought for satellite navigation, airbags, self-parking car systems and automatic brakes.
Being able to read, work on a laptop or even sleep in your vehicle is also being made possible, in a system that Volvo is also developing called the ‘road-train’.
Using sensors in the ‘commuter-car’ will allow six-to-eight cars to drive bumper-to-bumper in convoy. The driver will then be free to do whatever they want, as a computer control unit tells the car when to accelerate, steer and apply the brakes.
The convoy is led by a professional driver, which controls the cars behind it using radio signals. Cars can then leave the convoy whenever they please by pressing a button on the dashboard and taking control of the vehicle.
Not only will the ‘road-train’ allow drivers to be more productive with their time, but it will also cut fuel consumption by 20 per cent.
However, before the autonomous cars can take to the roads, an international law under the Vienna Convention on road traffic must be amended. The law currently requires that the driver must be in control of the car at all times. Obviously, with these new advancements, this may no longer need to be the case.
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Posted by Danielle Barge