Meet Bruno Duchet12/11/18
When Bruno Duchet was given the job of developing safety and warning systems for medium trucks it gave him the chance to combine two of his major interests: road safety and technology.
“With technically well-developed systems we can reduce the number of accidents on our roads and in so doing save the most important thing we have – human lives,” he says.
Bruno holds a degree in Electronics and Embedded Software Engineering. He lives in Lyon, France, and has been working in the Volvo Group for nearly 30 years, mostly on powertrain-related technology, but also suspensions, braking and other electronically controlled systems.
Over six years ago he began working on safety and warning systems to warn truck drivers of different hazards. As Feature Leader, Driver Assistance, his role is to adapt the systems for the Volvo Group’s medium trucks.
Bruno explains how, in the past, road safety was largely focused on protecting the driver and passengers within the vehicle. Nowadays, road safety equally concerns protecting people around the vehicle.
“Our vision of zero road accidents includes everyone. That’s why it’s so important that we develop good technology to support that aim,” he continues.
An example of a warning system within trucks that Bruno works on is ‘automatic brakes’ that are activated if a truck gets too close to the vehicle in front, risking a crash. Another system warns the driver – both with sound and lights – if the truck leaves its lane, for example because the driver is starting to nod off at the wheel and loses concentration for a few seconds.
Bruno Duchet also explains about systems that warn drivers when pedestrians or cyclists are in a blind spot below him/her.
Statistics show that the number of road accidents is falling in Europe. On the other hand, the fall in numbers of accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists is not as marked.
“That really shows how important it is that we continue to prioritise this kind of warning system, which protects people outside the vehicle. For me – working, as I do, with medium trucks – this is also of extra importance, because the trucks largely work within urban environments and communities where pedestrians and cyclists are most active,” he declares.
More support to drivers
Bruno is watching the development of self-driving vehicles with excitement. He believes that, more and more, the technology is about giving drivers more support.
“The technology offers systems that make the driver’s driving safer and reduce the risk of misjudgements being made due to human error. The development is towards more and more self-driving vehicles, but it will take time and we are taking things one step at a time. Safety always comes first,” he says.
Bruno believes this also means that the technology must always be beyond reproach.
“If a driver causes an accident, we talk about the human factor. We’re able to accept that, even when it involves a tragic accident. But if the technology fails, we cannot accept that. The technology must not make mistakes. It has to be error-free.”
Bruno also takes the view that it is important to take account of what drivers think.
“The drivers are professionals. They know their job and tend not to want any kind of monitoring or supervision. We therefore have to design warning systems that, while they react in a flash to any danger, are relatively inconspicuous when not needed. Drivers have to feel that they can rely on the system when it really matters,” he explains.
As well as adapting systems to the Volvo Group’s medium trucks, Bruno Duchet’s work also involves test driving competitors’ vehicles to test out their various warning systems.
“It’s both exciting and important to see what’s going on in the market and comparing where we’re at. By doing that, we can make sure we always have the edge,” he concludes.