Normally, we don’t report on car crashes. This particular crash, however, happened at a Volvo press event meant to show how its new collision warning system with auto brake on the 2011 S60 works -- and it didn’t.
“Volvo’s new Collision Warning with Auto Brake automatically brakes the car if there is an imminent risk of a collision with a moving or stationary vehicle,” Volvo writes about the collision avoidance system. “The system starts by alerting the driver and preparing the braking system for emergency braking. If the driver does not respond despite the warning, the brakes are automatically applied.”
Sounds like a great system right? Unfortunately for Volvo, we have to add “when it works” to that statement, at least temporarily.
Volvo setup a demonstration of how the system works by launching a new S60 equipped with the system out of a tunnel at around 35 km/h (22 mph) towards a parked truck. The system was then supposed to stop the vehicle before it impacted the truck, which it failed to do. The test promptly went from a demonstration of an advanced safety feature to a showcase of how destructive a crash from even 22 mph can be. Luckily the demonstration took place without a driver so no one was injured.
Although the system failed in this test, the system worked flawlessly in an earlier demonstration. Volvo claims the particular pre-production test car “suffered from the result of human error in preparation,” blaming the battery for the incident. Whatever the case, we’re guessing Volvo’s engineers are going to take another close look at the system before it launches in the production vehicle.