Volvo has taken another step on the journey towards autonomous driving by demonstrating a new traffic jam assistance system.
The new system, where a car automatically follows the vehicle in front in slow-moving queues up to 50 kmh, will be ready for production in 2014.
"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," Peter Mertens, of Volvo's Research and Development, said.
The traffic jam assistance function is an evolution of the current Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Aid technology, which was introduced in the all-new new Volvo V40 hatchback earlier in 2012.
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."
Mertens said their aim was to make commuting a bit less stressful for the driver.
Volvo said slow-moving queues are part of urban commuting worldwide. For example, Americans are said to spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work with drivers in such areas as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles exceeding that.
Autonomous driving, where the steering, acceleration and/or braking are automatically controlled by a vehicle that requires very little human interaction, is a major focus area in Volvo's development work.
"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. 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 90 kmh.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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