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Computing and Cars April 2010

Volvo: We Brake for Jaywalkers
By John R. Quain
The New York Auto show sees the North Amercian debut of the S60


The 2011 Volvo S60 is a sleek, four-door sports sedan with a first-of-its-kind pedestrian detection with full auto brake system. (Translation: It can see people and stop the car automatically before you hit someone.)

It identifies people using a video camera. Together with a radar and computer system it can tell when pedestrians are about to come in contact with your vehicle. It then sounds an alert, flashes warning lights above the dash, and finally stops the car should you ignore all that.

In an early demonstration drive last year I did last year, even at more than 30 miles per hour, the full auto brake prevented me from hitting a test dummy in a parking lot. Officially, the company promises that it will bring the car to a complete halt and avoid hitting a pedestrian at speeds of up to 22 m.p.h.

“It’s a coupe with four doors,” said Peter Horbury, Volvo’s design chief. Sexy, sleek and “naughty” was how the president of Volvo North America, Doug Speck, described the S60 — one of Volvo’s best sellers in the United States.

It’s being pitched as a luxury sports sedan. It may sell well, but no one is going to think of a Volvo as being “naughty.”



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