The upcoming 2010 Volvo S60 will be equipped with a system to detect the position, direction of travel and velocity of pedestrians and cyclists, then automatically brake to avoid colliding with them.
Previously, infrared cameras from companies like Mercedes have been able to identify pedestrians, but were only capable of drawing a driver's attention to them through a display screen. The Volvo Pedestrian Detection system adds an extra levels of capability to that — tracking their speed and direction and the ability to automatically apply the brakes — leading the Swedish brand to claim huge safety advances.
While over-protective parents and everything-is-someone-else's-fault Nazis will see a clear benefit in a car that removes a driver's ability to run over their spoiled, playing-in-the-street children, we're a bit more skeptical of the need for this technology. Surely the only 100% effective method of eliminating car/pedestrian interfaces is to separate roads from pedestrian areas. We'd much rather see more pedestrianized streets in city centers and barriers between sidewalks and streets than we would expensive, prone-to-failure technology. Like other safety aids-antilock brakes springs to mind as a good example-we can see drivers learning to rely on the Pedestrian Detection system over their own judgement and skill, then failing to pay attention at crucial moments. [via Facebook.com/Volvo]