Volvo truck of tomorrow has eyes of its own

The Volvo truck of tomorrow will be able to brake by itself and warn the driver when he is becoming tired or inattentive. The technology already exists and Volvo Trucks estimates that technical aids of this kind will lead to a clear reduction in the number of accidents involving heavy vehicles. In Europe alone, about 10,000 people are killed and a further 65,000 injured each year in accidents involving heavy trucks.

At a safety seminar held during the past week at Volvo Trucks in Göteborg, it became apparent that the truck drivers of tomorrow will increasingly be aided by technology. At Volvo Trucks, an intensive development drive is underway to identify technical solutions within various areas of safety associated with accidents involving heavy trucks. These solutions include systems for measuring the driver's alertness and systems that brake automatically when obstacles appear ahead or that warn the driver when vehicles or people appear in the truck's blind spots.

One of these systems is Drowsy Driver Alert, an alarm that uses cameras directed at the driver's eyes to constantly measure the driver's level of alertness.

"A tired driver blinks more slowly and closes his eyes more than an alert and rested driver and the camera sees this", says Petter Larsson from Volvo Technology, one of the developers of Drowsy Driver Alert. "The system can then warn the driver and urge him to take a break."

The Drowsy Driver Alert can be combined with the existing system, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). ACC uses a radar to measure the distance to the vehicle in front and applies the truck's brakes if it gets too close. Further development of ACC aims to design an emergency braking device that assists the driver to brake in the shortest distance possible in the event of an obstacle suddenly appearing in front of the truck.

Every year, accidents involving trucks occur as a result of the driver not seeing vehicles or people in the blind spot of the rear-view mirrors. Less protected road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, are especially affected. Consequently, Volvo is now developing two different systems to improve the driver's view around the truck.

Blind Spot Support uses cameras to monitor blind spots around the truck and displays the views in the cab. The second function, Lane Change Support, uses radar sensors to warn the driver of other vehicles in blind spots, for example when changing lanes.

May 13, 2004.

For further information, please contact Ulf Arensberg, Volvo Trucks, tel +46 31-66 66 50 or +46 0705-68 66 33