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“The safest car in the world is a Volvo.” If you saw that statement on a billboard, I’m betting there would be few, if any, arguments.

Safety is what Volvo does best. After all, they invented the three-point seatbelt 51-years ago, to lesson the injury to occupants if the car hit a moose on the road, or so the story goes.

From that moment on, it seems Volvo has never stopped its pursuit of engineering safer cars and for the last decade, highly sophisticated technology has played a significant role in vehicle and passenger safety for the company.

Did you know that in the last 10 years 3,449 pedestrians have been killed on our roads? It’s a staggering number and over 33 percent of these folks were over the age of 60 years.

Children under the age of 14 make up 1 in 10 of those killed and frankly, that’s an unacceptable number in a modern society such as ours.

Volvo Cars has spent the last 10 years developing their pedestrian avoidance system called ‘PAT’ or ‘Pedestrian Avoidance Technology’, which can detect a person/persons who accidentally wander in front of an on coming car. Once identified by ‘PAT’ the system determines in 0.5 seconds if the person is in danger.

If the driver does not heed the warning signal, then the system will automatically apply full braking pressure. Volvo says that this technology can reduce the risk of a pedestrian fatality by up to 85 precent by dramatically reducing the force of the impact.

Backing up these claims, is Dr Bruce Corben, Senior Research fellow at the Monash Accident Research Centre. The pedestrian safety expert says, “…that about half of all pedestrian traffic fatalities don’t involve breaking by the driver, crashes occur at the initial travel speed. Travel speed is critically important to pedestrian safety: some nine out of ten pedestrians struck at 30km/h will survive. At 50km/h, nine out of ten struck pedestrians will die. In-vehicle technologies that can detect pedestrians ahead, activate braking earlier and so shorten vehicle stopping distances, show considerable promise, not only in avoiding collisions but, by reducing injury risk through lower impact speeds when collisions do occur.”

Volvo’s PAT system on board their latest S60, involves the combination of a radar integrated in to the grille and a camera behind the rear view mirror, which can detect objects from 80cm in height, being the equivalent height of an average three year old.

Volvo collated an enormous volume of data for the development of PAT, which included over half-a-million test kilometres in chock-a-block cities like Paris, Tokyo and New Delhi, so that movement patterns of pedestrians in various climatic conditions could be recorded and stored for predictive research.

The all-new Volvo S60 with the ‘Pedestrian Avoidance Technology’ will be available from December 2010 although, pricing has not yet been released.




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