By now, you’re likely familiar with Volvo Cars’ City Safety system, which can automatically brake a passenger vehicle if it detects an imminent collision. Impressive? Yes – but not as impressive as a similar system developed by Volvo Trucks (no corporate relation), which does the same with loaded semi trucks.
Volvo Trucks’ new Collision Warning with Emergency Brake system uses both radar sensors and a forward-facing camera to mind the roadway ahead of the driver. If something – slow or stopped traffic, for instance — is detected ahead of the vehicle, a warning in the head-up display illuminates. If the truck continues forward, that display flashes and chirps at the driver. If the truck still continues forward, it applies partial brake pressure to slow the vehicle. If the driver still refrains from intervening, the truck can then apply full brake pressure to bring the truck to a complete halt. Volvo says it can avoid colliding with moving traffic at speeds up to 44 mph.
As neat as that may sound, seeing it in action is…well, fascinating. The truck – in this case, a brand spankin’ new FH Globetrotter – races towards an obstacle, senses the object, and applies its own brakes. Extra drama comes courtesy of the massive cab, which shimmies slightly on its air-sprung mounts while coping with the sudden (and rapid) deceleration. Making this even more impressive is the fact the truck’s trailer is loaded to its 40-ton gross carrying weight rating.
But wait: there’s more. Volvo Truck engineers repeat the demonstration, but this time, they replace the static obstacle with a live (and presumably quite fearless) driver in a V70 wagon. Although the FH appears ready and willing to eat the V70 whole, the system does its part and slams on the brakes in time to allow the white wagon to keep on rolling. The view from within the cab is equally dramatic, especially as the V70 all but disappears from the driver’s line of sight.
For now, Volvo Trucks’ Collision Warning with Emergency Brake system is only available in the new FH, which is seemingly available in most markets Volvo sells heavy-duty trucks in…except, of course, North America. Volvo may be one of the first to market such a system, but it won’t be the last: as the truck maker notes, European regulations will mandate emergency braking systems in all new trucks by 2015