Volvo animal avoidance systemEnlarge Photo
To this end, Volvo has been developing a system based on its Pedestrian Detection and Full Auto Brake technology that will reduce the risk of hitting animals that stray out into the road that cause tens of thousands of accidents and injuries every year.
It's all part of Volvo's corporate vision for 2020 - that no driver of any new Volvo should suffer serious injury or death. It's a big ask, but based on Volvo's reputation and hunger for the latest safety tech, it's certainly within reach.
Accidents involving wild animals are a huge problem for drivers across the road. Volvo says that in Sweden alone, more than 40,000 such accidents are reported every year. Moose cause the greatest danger - an adult can weigh as much as 1500 pounds, which is something you want to avoid being thrown through the windshield. The Swedish Advisory Council on Accidents Involving Wild Animals reports as many as 7,000 collisions with moose every year.
Many accidents happen as the day draws to a close and visibility is reduced, a problem compounded as the Winter nights draw in. To provide an early warning to the driver, Volvo's system uses an infra-red camera and a radar system to monitor the road ahead.
When an animal is detected, the driver is given an audible warning. If no action is taken, the vehicle can automatically apply the brakes. Andreas Eidehall, technical expert in active safety systems at Volvo, explains:
"The goal is for the system to function at the normal rural highway speeds. In cases in which it cannot help the driver entirely avoid the collision, the system will slow down the car sufficiently to help reduce the force of impact and thus of serious injuries".
The technology has been in development for just over a year but isn't ready to hit the roads just yet. Engineers are programming it to recognize various sizes of animal and adjusting the system for the best response in different scenarios.
Volvo expects the system to be production ready in the next couple of years.