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Safer queues with new technology

More than 20 percent of all accidents involving trucks take place in traffic queues or similar situations. That is why Volvo Trucks has developed a system called Automated Queue Assistance, AQuA, which helps the driver in slow-moving queues by taking control of the vehicle. The system is being demonstrated on June 21-22 during the HAVEit Final Event in Göteborg, Sweden.
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HAVEit, which stands for Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport, is an EU project whose purpose is the development of next-generation intelligent vehicles. Since the project got under way in 2008, a total of seven intelligent and autonomous solutions have been developed. They are now being demonstrated as the project reaches its conclusion. One of the systems being shown is Volvo Trucks’ Automated Queue Assistance, AQuA, which was developed in cooperation with Volvo Technology.

“Driving in a traffic queue is a very monotonous process. The driver may be at a standstill for long periods of time and in such a situation it is easy to become distracted, leading to accidents,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic and Product Safety Director, Volvo Trucks.

The technology developed for AQuA helps minimise risks in queues. By equipping the truck with a number of technical features that can take control of the vehicle’s steering and speed, the driver gets help in driving the vehicle and maintaining a proper level of concentration. When a traffic queue builds up, the driver can choose whether or not to activate the system, which operates at low speeds. It is possible to retake manual control at any time. The driver is always ultimately responsible for the vehicle, so to ensure proper focus on the traffic a camera registers how attentive the driver is and issues an alert if it detects a lack of concentration.

The aim of AQuA is to reduce the driver’s burden behind the wheel, improve safety and reduce environmental impact by preventing accidents which in turn may cause new traffic queues. However, it will be some time before we see AQuA on the market – the technology needs further refinement. Furthermore, end-customer acceptance of the new technology is a critical factor.

“Our experience shows that it takes time for people to build up faith and hand over control to new systems. Having said that, development of the AQuA technology is an indication of what the future might offer,” says Carl Johan Almqvist.

“Volvo Trucks is investing heavily in further development of this type of support system for our drivers. This development is an important part of the drive to reach our zero vision, whereby no Volvo trucks are to be involved in any accidents,” he continues.

Within the framework of the HAVEit project, Volvo has also developed an additional function known as Active Green Driving (AGD), which has thus far been tested in Volvo buses, as well as Brake-by-Wire technology, an entirely electro-mechanical braking system that has the potential for improving performance and stability during braking.

June 21, 2011

Facts

About Automated Queue Assistance (AQuA)
AQuA is a support system for truck drivers in traffic queues. The aim of AQuA is to reduce the burden on the driver, improve safety and reduce environmental impact. Using a range of intelligent components such as laser scanners, radar sensors and a camera, the system monitors the traffic in front of and alongside the vehicle. For instance, it can detect lane markings, vehicles in front or the direction of the road. This information is then used to steer, accelerate and brake the vehicle in queues. The system, which communicates with the driver via a monitor in the instrument panel, informs the driver when the traffic thins out and it is time for him or her to take over control once again. What is more, there is a camera that registers how attentive the driver is and issues an alert if the driver in not concentrating sufficiently. If the alert does not prompt the driver to react, the vehicle comes to a complete stop within a few seconds.

About Active Green Driving (AGD)
AGD improves fuel consumption by predicting what the traffic will be like over the next two to three minutes. The system bases its calculations on data provided by laser scanners that register whether there is a vehicle or other object in front of the truck, as well as a colour camera that monitors traffic lights. Additional information is provided by a GPS system. This GPS unit is pre-programmed with maps and shows any obstacles there might be along the intended route as well as the status of the road: roundabouts, traffic lights, hills and planned stops. Thanks to AGD, the fuel that is most suitable for the current situation can be selected: electricity, diesel or a combination of both. AGD allows fuel consumption to be reduced by a further 6-8 percent (Volvo’s electric-hybrid driveline already offers about a 30 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared with a conventional diesel engine). The system operates without any input from the driver.

About Brake-by-wire
Brake-by-Wire is an entirely electro-mechanical braking system that has the potential for improving performance and stability during braking. The system delivers increased braking performance for actuation and advanced control resulting in improved stability control and reduced stopping distance compared to alternative systems. The system uses the principle of self-enforcement for generating brake force. This means very low energy consumption compared to alternative systems and less noise production.

About HAVEit
The EU-funded HAVEit (“Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport”) R&D project is set to develop research concepts and technologies for highly automated driving. This will help reduce driver workload, prevent accidents, reduce environmental impact and make traffic safer. Launched in February 2008, 17 European partners from the automotive and supply sector as well as from the scientific community collaborate in the project.

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For further information, please contact:
Jenny Björsne, Corporate Communications, phone +46 31 664523, e-mail
jenny.bjorsne@volvo.com

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