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Volvo's Emergency Braking: When Life And Death Are in Split Seconds
That is a close one
Victor Jueng
By Victor Jueng
Dec 23, 2017
8937

This video went viral last month, featuring a careless school boy and a seemingly unstoppable heavy truck. I held my breath when the truck was about to smash the hell out of the boy and things might get literally graphic. Thank goodness the truck stopped just in time so we could enjoy the little dude's comical escape with a light heart. We should of course praise the driver for his attention and reaction, for a millisecond might make the difference between tragedy and escape. And we should not ignore the Volvo truck's amazing emergency braking system. 

This emergency braking system was first demonstrated on the New Volvo FH, a heavy truck range of which name is short for Forward control and Highway entry, in 2013. This active safety system uses two sensors to realize collision avoidance: a radar to understand distance and a camera to determine what kind of vehicle is ahead. By combining  analyzing the information gathered by these two sensors, the software in the system is then capable of activating brake when the driver fails to do so, thus safely stops the truck from rear-ending the vehicle or object in front. This emergency braking system is now installed and real-life tested on a fully loaded 40 ton tractor and proven to be effective. 

For many truck drivers, the work gets increasingly dangerous when fatigue sets in, especially at night. According to a research on Traffic Accident Commission 20% of fatal road accidents involve driver fatigue. And Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration under Department of Transportation reports 13% of commercial motor vehicle drivers are fatigued at time of their crash. If the driver is not conscious enough to protect his safety, it is best to have the emergency braking system that got you back. Yet safety always comes first and no one should drive drowsy, tired or careless. 

Many automakers now have adopted forward-collision warning and avoidance systems in their vehicles, and there is no shortage of news and video clips online showing automatic braking helping car owners escape a crash. But so far, Volvo's performance video has been the most stunning in my judgement, for how many times do you get to witness a 40 ton Primer quickly overcome its inertial in such short distance. For non-believers, if this still cannot absolve your skepticism on vehicle automation, maybe just imagine whether you could pull it off yourself if you were in that driver seat. 

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