A World-first Safety Technology From Volvo

By: Evander Klum

Volvo has been at the forefront of developing efficient technologies which will offer safety to their customers. Considering the results of recent studies where it results showed that as much as 90 per cent of all traffic accidents are caused by driver distraction, Volvo is once again upgrading safety in its vehicles by helping a driver avoid or even just reduce the severity of accidents caused by distraction or fatigue through the development of a world-first technology.

Earlier this September, Volvo revealed its Driver Alert Control (DAC) together with a Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It is what Volvo claims as the world-first technology to alert tired or distracted drivers. By the end of this year, the two systems will be made available as an optional feature priced at ?500 on the all-new Volvo V70.

According to a spokesperson at the Volvo Cars Safety Center, "Real life safety is the key to out safety philosophy. When it comes to preventative safety, we have the same approach as when we develop protective systems. In other words our research and technical developments focus on areas where new technology can create significant results in real-life-traffic."

The Driver Alert Control (DAC), a world first innovation, is the product of Volvo's series of extensive studies on how drivers operate behind the wheel. Unlike other technologies featured before, DAC wouldn't be monitoring human behavior, which varies from one individual to another. Instead, the system will look over the progress of the car on the road. Such driving behavior is said to be much reliable since it considers assessing the impact of fatigue or distraction to the car's movements, as well as if the car is being driven in a controlled and consistent manner. It would even work as much as covering the guard if the driver is getting to much attached to a mobile phone conversation or probably getting distracted by companion during driving.

The composition of the Driver Alert Control includes a camera between the windscreen and the interior rear view mirror. Several sensors and a control unit have also been provided. The camera is held to measure the distance between the car and the road lane markings. The sensors, on the other hand, are responsible in registering the car's movements in the same situation. Those sensors deliver the information to the control unit, where the code will then be calculated as to know whether the driver is at risk of getting out of control while driving.

If the computer measures the risk as high, an audible signal will alert the driver. For minor distractions, a text message and coffee cup symbol will appear in the car's information display, imposing that the driver needs to take a break. Consistency of driving is accessed through bars displayed, where five bars in the starting and fewer if driving is held less consistent.

Daniel Levin, project manager for Driver Alert Control at Volvo Cars, said, "It is, of course, always the driver's responsibility to take a break when necessary, but sometimes you might not realize that you're not alert enough to drive. In such situations, Driver Alert Control can help the driver make the right decision before the concentration level becomes too low." He implies that the system will just be of help and the driver is still held the most responsible to get himself aware of anything that might affect his driving.

With regards to changing lanes, Volvo Cars' researchers presented the Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system. After studies have been made, they got an estimate of 30 percent to 40 percent of the accidents, of which are caused by single car road departures and head-on collisions, being prevented by the system.

Like the DAC, the Lane Departure Warning comes with a camera between the windscreen and the rear view mirror. And, it also monitors the car's position between the road markings. A button on the center console with get this system activated, releasing a gentle warning sound whenever the car unreasonably crosses one of the road markings.

As with the car's speed, both the DAC and the LDW will be activated as it reaches 40 mph and stays active as it exceeds 37 mph.

However, like any other technologies, exceptions exist. Both systems will be unavailable during extreme weather conditions and other situations that tend to make the markings unclear. Probably, this technology will be upgraded, as Volvo upgrades its , in time.

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