Volvo Trucks claims to have developed a system which is capable of seeing a 360 degree scan of everything around it. The computerised system evaluates information from multiple sources simultaneously, and is said to function in a similar way to the human mind. Currently, the technology is in a testing phase, Volvo says it may become reality in five to ten years.
The technology was developed in joint project with Volvo Cars called Non-Hit Car and Truck. After evaluating what is happening it suggests actions to the driver to avoid incidents. If the driver does not respond, the steering or braking system may take over and take evasive action.
“Our vision for traffic safety is to have no accidents involving Volvo trucks,” said Carl Johan Almqvist, Volvo Trucks’ Traffic and Product Safety Director. “This unique technology has taken us yet another step towards our vision and will hopefully save many lives in the future.”
The central control computer takes input from cameras, radars and other sensors positioned on all sides of the vehicle. A 360-degree scan around the truck takes place every 25 milliseconds. Data iis processed, situations are analysed and options are generated. The technology is claimed to be able to distinguish and identify different road users including pedestrians, cyclists,motorcyclists and other vehicles.
“The technology can predict traffic scenarios up to five seconds ahead, depending on the speed of the objects, and map out the best plan of action,” says Mansour Keshavarz, Systems Engineer at Volvo Trucks, who has worked with the technology. “In many ways the technology serves as a co-driver, but one that can see all around the vehicle. It can also alert the driver to things that are happening so that he or she can react, for example by warning with an alarm signal or braking to avoid a collision.
“Trucks are a different type of vehicle and do not act the same way as cars in traffic. Each truck is loaded differently, for example, and their large size prevents them from carrying out severe avoidance manoeuvres, such as swerving quickly to avoid a collision. So it is important to research and develop technology specifically for trucks.”
Volvo says it has the main components in place but will have to do a lot more testing in order to develop a failsafe system.