Volvo Pedestrian Avoidance Test Fails Spectacularly

Four months after a press event featuring an early crash avoidance test's embarrassing failure, Volvo's had a second PR mishap. This time, it involves their new pedestrian avoidance technology. As you can see, it does everything but avoid pedestrians.

Earlier this year in Sweden a Volvo demonstrating the automaker's low speed crash avoidance technology known as City Safety failed to apply the brakes and crashed into the back of a truck.

Volvo said that crash — involving a driver-less car on a special test track — was the result of an earlier flat battery that temporarily disabled the system due to low voltage. The company claims to have since reprogrammed the software. Here's the hilarious video:

Now, according to the folks at Drive, they've had a new failure with the company's new pedestrian crash avoidance software. Designed to automatically apply the brakes and avoid or reduce injuries to pedestrians by using radar sensors and a camera, the new Volvo V60 wagon failed to recognize the Swedish brand's dummy, adorably nicknamed Bob, in demonstrations to Australian journalists in Italy.

While nine of the 12 demonstration runs saw the new pedestrian detection and avoidance technology work flawlessly, the remaining three resulted in an impact with Bob — one of them with no brakes applied that almost certainly would have led to significant injuries.

That's sort of a problem considering the system depresses the brakes if the driver has NOT depressed the brakes themselves. Therefore, the system, in practice, could likely lead to drivers having an over-developed sense of confidence that they didn't need to be involved with the braking of the car in situations where a pedestrian runs out into traffic.

Wow, won't they be sorely mistaken when the officer comes to cart them away to jail after mowing down little Bobby and his mother?

Jonas Pisell, the manager of Volvo Safety Systems told Drive,"The failure of the test was due to the dummy not being set up properly." Well, as the old Ad Council safety PSAs used to say, pedestrians can now learn a lot from a dummy. Like that if Volvo drivers are falsely lulled into a sense of safety and rely upon the brand's new pedestrian avoidance technology, it currently will only horribly maim and injure pedestrians three times out of 12.

To be clear, that's still nine times where it will actually stop the car on its own. If confronted with a dummy named "Bob." In a controlled testing situation. In Italy. In the middle of a sunny afternoon.

We're just saying that for the moment, you should probably rely on watching the road yourself.

See the video over at Drive and check out Steve Colquhoun's take on the crash from inside the car here.