Wednesday, 31 October 2012 15:53

Volvo beats traffic jams

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Self-drive cars may be the future, but that doesn’t mean the death of grid-lock or the general drag of slow city traffic.  Why do we even fork out for high performance vehicles when much of the time is spent travelling slower than a senior citizen on a mobility scooter?


Volvo has been at the forefront of the self-drive future with technology such as Car Platooning or the European SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) in recent times and continues this thinking with the Traffic Jam Assistance System.

Built on an evolution of the current Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Aid technology, which was introduced in the all-new Volvo V40 earlier in 2012, the Traffic Jam Assistance System takes some of the grid-lock drudgery away.
VolvoTrafficJam2
“This technology makes driving more relaxed in the kind of monotonous queuing that is a less attractive part of daily driving in urban areas. It offers you a safe, effortless drive in slow traffic,” says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Corporation.

The driver activates the traffic jam assistance function by pushing a button. When active, the engine, brakes and steering respond automatically. The Adaptive Cruise Control enables safe, comfortable driving by automatically maintaining a set gap to the vehicle in front, at the same time as the steering is also controlled.

“The car follows the vehicle in front in the same lane. However, it is always the driver who is in charge. He or she can take back control of the car at any time,” says Mertens.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Americans spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work.  That is longer than the average two week vacation time most Americans have per year (80 hours).

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“The situation is of course similar or even worse, in major urban areas all over the world. Our aim with the traffic jam assistance is to make commuting a bit less stressful for the driver,” says Mertens. “Our aim is to gain leadership in the field of autonomous driving by moving beyond concepts and pioneering technologies that will reach actual customers. Making these features reliable and easy to use is crucial to boosting customer confidence in self-driving cars”.

The low-speed traffic jam assistance system is the second technology for autonomous driving recently presented by Volvo Car Corporation. A few weeks ago, the company demonstrated the SARTRE project (Safe Road Trains for the Environment), which focuses on platooning in highway and motorway traffic at speeds of up to 90km/h.

The traffic jam assistance technology will be part of Volvo Car Corporation’s new Scalable Product Architecture, SPA, which will be introduced in 2014.

“SPA is a stand-alone Volvo project that will enable us to take the company’s technological future into our own hands. Most of our volume will be based on this new architecture. It will give us a high degree of commonality and the right scale of economy to be competitive in the future,” says Mertens.

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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