Volvo leading development of safer trucks

Truck makers are to assess the possibility of using virtual co-drivers to improve safety under an EU initiative.

The €28million Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport (HAVEit) project is focusing heavily on next generation intelligent vehicles that could save lives through the development of advanced driver assistance systems.

A number of sensors on the outside of the vehicle that respond to the traffic environment and scan lane markings, road signs, the current traffic situation and the road conditions. The aim is that in 2011, the project should demonstrate the new technology in seven vehicles, three of them heavy commercial vehicles from Volvo.

Two trucks are currently undergoing a digital transformation at Volvo Technology in Göteborg, Sweden. One truck focuses more on safety, the other on environmental aspects. The safety truck will spotlight the development of systems and automation designed to assist the driver in repetitive traffic tailback situations characterised by monotonous low-speed progress.

Erika Jakobsson, project manager at Volvo Technology said: "The queue support system for trucks that is in production today works down to 30 km/h. This is still a relatively high speed. We are working on queue support down to 0 km/h. What is more, the truck should automatically stop if the vehicle in front stops, and start moving again without the driver pressing the accelerator."

A survey by the European Truck Accident Causation Study shows that 47% of all truck accidents take place in monotonous situations such as traffic queues. Now technology is being developed to help ensure that this type of accident becomes less frequent.

Lane support systems are also being developed to ensure the truck always drives in the middle of its lane without the driver having to do anything. This degree of automation is achieved through nine sensors installed on the safety truck: a lane and object camera above the windscreen, a camera in the cab to monitor the driver's status, two short range radars – one on either side of the truck –and three lasers.


Functions being developed within the HAVEit project:
• Automated adjustment to traffic flow
• Automated queue support
• Temporary autopilot
• Active eco-driving

Author
Justin Cunningham

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The problem with this article is that it ignores the obvious solution - which is the freight train, an existing technology, closely linked and compatible with another under-used technological wonder - the passenger train. Both are ideally suited for purpose, and offer proven solutions to "repetitive traffic tailback situations characterised by monotonous low-speed progress" as stated, while simultaneously improving safety and environmental considerations and reducing overuse of valuable resourc

Comment Gerry Shapiro, 06/08/2009
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