Tougher Brake

My mother gnarled many fenders over the years, in most cases because of sudden panic. Recognizing that she was about to collide with another car, pole or human, she’d slam on the accelerator in order to stop. (If that sentence didn’t grab you, reread it.)

The 2011 Volvo S60 boasts a fascinating safety feature that mother would have loved. Not cryptically named, Pedestrian Detection identifies objects obstructing the vehicle like, say, pedestrians. It even recognizes objects that are not yet in the way but are in motion, and can anticipate a move in front of the car.

If Pedestrian Detection decides that you, the driver, are on a collision course (it needn’t be with a pedestrian — a wall works just as well, not that a wall would step in front of your car) it flashes a warning. Should you fail to respond, the system brakes for you, even if your foot is still on the accelerator.

That said, if you’re going too fast, you’ll still collide. Pedestrian Detection cannot fully stop you if you’re exceeding 35km per hour. Still, here’s an interesting stat (from Volvo): 50% of accidents happen below 25km per hour. (Just a guess, but that probably doesn’t apply to 50% of DailyXY readers.)

Does all this mean that I can drive a 2011 Volvo S60 T6, slowly, towards a pedestrian and it will be impossible to hit the person? A tempting challenge!

Turns out it’s hard to find a volunteer in my house, and chasing neighbours, even with a kickass Swedish beast like the S60, is no way to keep the local peace.

So I resolved to simply drive into the wall and see if the S60 would halt of its own volition. Easier said than done.

Even after three attempts, I simply couldn’t summon the resolve not to brake when consciously driving into a collision. And trying to distract yourself (“Hey look, it’s Don Knotts!”) doesn’t work either. Intellectually, you may be confident that the technology works but to determine whether you actually believe that deep down? You must point and shoot, keeping your foot on the accelerator. And I couldn’t do that.

Mother would be so disappointed.

Image courtesy of Volvo of Lisle.

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