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Car Tech Video: Volvo S60 Pedestrian Detection

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Car Tech Video: Volvo S60 Pedestrian Detection

4:58 /

Volvo's latest step toward a crash free world.

-Lots of cars emphasize safety these days. It sells. But no one does it like Volvo. They're a little nutty about it. Let's check out the latest example of their obsession, a car that keeps an eye on pedestrians in Check The Tech. We've shown you Volvo's City Safe before. It stops you before you run into something. Now, they'll keep you from running into someone, with a new tech called Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Braking. Okay, the parts are there but I've encountered plenty of self parking systems that don't and lane drift detectors that can't. Let's see if Volvo got this fully baked. Now, how is this different from the objection detection though? Because I would think if it sees an object of any kind, it's going to stop. That would be city safety. -Right, and-- -But this is going further. -The object detection is a very simple technology. We use lasers. It's just looking for something metallic about the shape and size of a car. This is more complex because it uses a radar system. Once it detects that it's closing in on something, a camera takes a picture, processes it against-- -That's what's in the windshield here-- -Yep. Right up here. -We see a bunch of cameras there. -So the camera takes the picture, processes it against 10,000 stored images of humans and it tries to see, is this a human. It's only if it's human that it will stop for the pedestrian. -So how does it tell if it's human? I mean, just the shape? -It's the signature so head, neck, shoulders, legs, torso. Even the movement so it's all of that. Humans are more than 80% water so it's actually harder for us to get it to stop for a dummy than it is to get it to stop for you or I or a real person. -Oh. -Because the water in our bodies-- -So the radar is able to check up on some of the composition of a human being? -Yes. -Okay, so that's what's going on also. -And we're still obviously always advancing the technology for right now because of the angle of the radar and the camera, it can only detect something down to 32 inches. -Okay. -So it's looking specifically, again, hopefully, someone that small would be with a parent that it would pick up. -Oh, that it would pick up. -Uh huh. -Right, okay. Notice that pedestrian detection is built on software using a couple of existing car tech trends--radar and visual cameras. In addition to this car's windshield cams, there's also a wall eye cam on the front for wide angle creeping, one under each side view mirror looking back for things in your blind spot, and the fairly common one on the rear that is almost pedestrian these days, but the S60 offers a close up view for real fine work when backing up. We haven't seen that before. Alright. So it's supposed to just roll on here and the idea is we're in city traffic, doing a few miles an hour, I'm sitting here chatting to you. I'm texting. God knows I never do that. I'm looking out the window there. Here's this guy stepped off the curb and look at that. I never touched the brakes and Rob is still standing. I've got the brakes, I felt that on really hard. The pedal was really moving. -Uh huh. -I heard a grinding sound. What happened on here on the dash? -Yes. That is a strip of LED lights and an audible warning that come on about a second and a half before it's gonna brake for you so it's giving you, again, always a chance to engage. Wake up, wake up, you're driving, stop texting. -I like how it got really close to him when it stopped, as if I'm not just going to stop but I'm gonna also teach you a good lesson. Is this something you have to switch on? Is it always on? -Pedestrian detection is always on and if you think that we're saving human lives and intervening and preventing fatalities, you can see why you'd always want it on. -Yeah, why would you even turn it off? -Right. -And what insurance company would really want you to be able to, to be honest. Do you guys know anything about the insurance discounts that come from these innovations? -No, I haven't heard anything about that quite yet and I think part of the reason is 'cause the vehicle is actually land and will start being available to pick up at your local dealership in September, so we'll probably hear more about that then. -This works up to what speed? -Twenty-two miles per hour. -Alright, so-- Oh, there it goes. Works every time. -Well, and we have found that 75% of accidents happen at low speeds, under 20 miles per hour, so, you know, we are really looking to avoid the majority of accidents and then going forward, hopefully prevent all accidents. -I'll give it to Volvo. The technology does seem to just plain work, over and over and over. Of the roughly 37,000 traffic deaths in the US each year, about 12% or 4400 are pedestrians. Technology like this could make a big dent in that number but not until it's available more widely than on a single $40,000 semi-elite Swedish sedan. Okay. This guy's very happy about pedestrian detection but will consumers be? I mean, Volvo's kind of mixing a funny message here--naughty and super safe. Those are kinda odd bedfellows. This car has to succeed as a great road car which they tell us it is with a pretty hot motor under the hood and some great suspension tech and all of that, we shall see when one comes into the CNET garage. But in the meantime, pricing on this will be around $37,000 base, September 2010 in showrooms but this pedestrian technology we're showing you is part of a tech package on top of that, but this is a case of Volvo trying to hang on to their roots, and they do safety tech very well, but also moving to something a little more salacious.

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