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Volvo technology offering all-around visibility

By Kyle Lindsay
Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 09:15

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Technology developed by Volvo enables 360 scan of trucks surroundings

Volvo Trucks has developed new technology which can eliminate the risk of accidents caused due to a limited field of vision, enabling a vehicle to do a 360 degree scan of everything in its surroundings.

Coming hot on the heels of a recent study by Loughborough University’s Design School, the vehicle evaluates information from multiple sources simultaneously and suggests actions to avoid any incidents. The technology is currently in the test phase and it is hoped it will become a reality within five to ten years.

The technology is the result of Volvo’s own unique research project called ‘Non-Hit Car and Truck’, in co-operation with Volvo Cars. For the first time ever it will be possible to enable a vehicle to register and evaluate everything that is happening in its surroundings and suggest actions to avoid accidents, including collisions with pedestrians, cyclists or other vehicles. If the driver does not respond to the suggested actions, the steering or braking system can then be activated autonomously.

“Our vision for traffic safety is to have no accidents involving Volvo trucks,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, Volvo Trucks’ Traffic and Product Safety Director. “This unique technology has taken us yet another step towards our vision and will hopefully save many lives in the future.”

Non-hit system 6

The main component in this technology is a data platform that fuses the sensory input from cameras, radars and other sensors positioned on all sides of the vehicle. It enables the truck to perform a 360-degree scan of its surroundings every 25 milliseconds. All the data input is interpreted, risk situations are analysed and different route options for the vehicle are generated. By combining several sensory systems, the technology can distinguish and identify different road users including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and other vehicles since it can sense both their distance and direction.

The technology is not yet ready to be applied in a commercial safety system. Compared to vehicle automation in cars, there are specific challenges to overcome when developing this type of technology for heavy vehicles.

“Trucks are a different type of vehicle and do not act the same way as cars in traffic. For example, every truck is loaded differently and their sheer size prevents them from carrying out severe avoidance manoeuvres, such as swerving quickly to avoid a collision. So it is important to research and develop technology specifically for trucks,” explains Mansour Keshavarz.

Market introduction can take place within five to ten years according to Carl Johan Almqvist. “We have the main components in place, but we need to do a lot more testing in order to make sure that the system is fault-free. If we manage to solve these challenges, a future without truck accidents is within reach.”

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