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Autonomous truck technology provides protection for vulnerable road users
Vulnerable road users in urban environments may soon gain protection from sensor technology in Volvo Trucks that predict blind spot incidents.
Under development since September 2010, Volvo’s “Non-Hit Car and Truck” project has involved several key technology partners including HiQ and the Chalmers University of Technology. The result is an array of sensors including radars and cameras deployed around the vehicle to collect information about the surroundings.
Information from the 360-degree sensor array is processed to assess risks and provide information to the driver on how to avoid accidents. If a collision is determined as being inevitable, the truck takes autonomous control and applies the brakes itself. The technology is set to be a breakthrough in the protection of vulnerable road users including cyclists and pedestrians from the dangers of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) traffic in urban environments.
The 360-degree spatial awareness intelligence fed to the Volvo Truck’s processor is a step beyond the existing blind-spot elimination equipment which exists on today’s trucks. Carl Johan Almqvist, Volvo Trucks’ Traffic and Product Safety Director stated that despite this equipment being fitted, it’s still easy for a driver to miss important events in dense traffic such as a cyclist overtaking on the near-side.
The all-round vision system works similar to the human mind in that it constantly scans its surroundings, assessing risk and predicting outcomes before making judgements and decisions on what actions need to be taken.
The system is particularly important for protecting cyclists and pedestrians who are especially vulnerable in urban areas where there are a lot of heavy vehicles making manoeuvres. According to research conducted by Volvo Trucks, limited visibility when making these manoeuvres is one of the primary causes of collisions with vulnerable road users.
The Non-Hit Car and Truck project is scheduled for completion by December 2014 after which the results will be used for developing a production system which is likely to be available for commercial intoduction within the next five to ten years and will complement existing active safety systems in Volvo commercial vehicles including collision avoidance technology with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), lane changing support to provide blind spot information to the driver, lane departure warning and sleep impairment detection.
Carl Johan Almqvist concluded by saying that the main components are now in place for protecting cyclists and pedestrians but a lot more testing is needed in order to make the system fault free. By achieving the project’s goals, the company’s aim of a future without HGV accidents is now within reach.