Volvo Trucks is displaying several next-generation projects at ITS, the world congress for intelligent transport systems and transport services, in Stockholm September 21-25. Among its exhibits are “thinking” trucks that automatically handle some of the routine aspects of driving, communicate with other vehicles on the road and, if necessary, step in automatically in critical situations.
“In the longer term, it is entirely realistic to have a zero vision regarding accidents involving trucks. We will show tomorrow’s safety solutions, including an all-new generation of driver-assistance systems. They build on dialogue between drivers, electronic functions and the surrounding traffic environment, making the vehicle itself more or less automated depending on the circumstances,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, traffic and product safety director at Volvo Trucks. “However, even as we approach the zero vision, we can never allow technology to fully take over responsibility for driving. That role is and will remain the task of the professional and skilled driver.”
On the Volvo stand, the company is presenting the latest technological solutions in the field of active safety in the form of a concept truck and a driving simulator. The simulator demonstrates Automated Queue Assistance, a function whereby the vehicle accelerates and brakes automatically at low speeds, for instance in slow-moving traffic tailbacks.
On its stand, Volvo Trucks is also displaying a truck that is part of an EU project entitled “Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport” (HAVEit). It is a major investment in intelligent next-generation vehicles featuring advanced driver-assistance systems.
Among their many special features, the HAVEit trucks include E-horizon, which via links to map databases provides the driver with information about hills, curves and junctions ahead on his route. The driveline is accordingly adapted so that progress is as efficient and economical as possible.
On a test track outside the exhibition grounds, visitors can test drive trucks from the international Safespot project, whose brief is to examine how tomorrow’s cars and trucks can communicate with one another and with the surrounding infrastructure.
The Safespot project has defined and tested various applications based primarily on the vehicle, such as safety in junctions, warning of frontal impact, warning of poor road surface or detection of cyclists and pedestrians.
On the test track there are also trucks from the CVIS (Cooperative Vehicle Infrastructure Systems) research project, which focuses on infrastructure-based applications. These applications encompass speed alerts, warnings of accidents on the road and the creation of safety margins for emergency rescue vehicles, among much else. The driver receives the information via a display screen or in the form of audio/visual signals in the vehicle cab. However, the information can also be transmitted via signs or flashing lights at the side of the road.
Volvo Trucks is also presenting the euroFOT research project, which involves 28 European companies and organizations. The aim of the project is to create safer and more efficient road transport by collecting valuable data from the traffic environment.
The aim is that the project should get under way in 2010. Volvo trucks packed with a variety of monitoring devices will drive on the roads, gathering data over a period of one year.
“This gives us a new opportunity to register in detail a wide variety of potentially dangerous situations, study driver behaviour and evaluate the benefits of new accident-prevention safety systems – and to build up knowledge for the development of forthcoming technologies,” says Carl Johan Almqvist.