Oops, that wasn't supposed to happen. The safety gurus at Volvo are a bit red-cheeked today as a video of the new 2011 S60 smashing into the back of a truck after the collision avoidance system being demonstrated for the press failed to do its job.
The problem is being credited to human error in the setup of the car, and the lack of a human driver behind the wheel. Somehow the car's battery wasn't setup right--we're not sure what that means, either--and the dummy behind the wheel was obviously incapable of seeing the system wasn't active. The result: one smashed S60, and one embarrassed car company. At least it wasn't a failed demonstration of the car's pedestrian avoidance system.
Here's what was supposed to happen: the car, approaching the rear of the parked truck at 30 mph, would detect the obstacle and automatically apply the brakes to stop the car before impact--a dramatic demonstration of a cutting-edge production safety feature. What actually happened was definitely even more dramatic.
It's hard not to feel bad for Volvo, but at the same time, this is the sort of system that needs to work every time if customers are going to pay for it and--however inadvisably--rely on it. We'll keep you updated as Volvo will no doubt work to prove the system's merit as soon as possible.