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Latest inventions in the car industry - Continental Sensor System in the new VOLVO XC60 / S60

Posted on July 26, 2010

Imagine a Sunday without Top Gear show on Discovery channel...a PERFECT one! in my case :) Being almost forced to watch this show every time it's on this channel, I realised that I might also find out interesting things, that can increase my knowledge in this ever stunning domain...of CARS! Because this time, I found out a very spicy detail on one of the most famous car brands in the world and also most secure, I believe I can also share to you, our EuroCars' friends.

So, let me tell you about this Continental Sensor System in the new VOLVO XC60. Fancy name :) Let's get serious, and talk about real facts. You might not be surprised to find out that the risk of rear-end collisions is particularly great in city traffic with its constant alternation between braking and accelerating. True! A number of 75 % of the accidents recorded by the police occur at speeds below 30 km/h. It is precisely at these speeds, in slow-moving or “stop and go” traffic, that this sensor system, developed and manufactured by Continental around the Closing Velocity (CV) sensor, reduces the risk of a rear-end collision.

How does it work? Fitted level with the inside mirror in the area cleaned by the windshield wiper, the sensor uses three infrared beams to probe the road up to some six meters in front of the vehicle. In this case, the sensor picks up vehicles which are stationary or traveling in the same direction. If the gap is less than the distance which must be regarded as critical at the current speed, the system causes the brakes to be applied automatically. Pretty clever, huh?

Theoretically, if the maximum speed differential between the vehicles would be of 15 km/h, a rear-end collision would be avoided in most cases. And, at greater relative speeds, the severity of the impact would be considerably minimised. At the same time, the City Safety system optimizes occupant protection by providing additional data to the airbag control unit and triggering the restraint systems as required. Like the front and side airbag initiation sensors, this is also a Continental product.

All clear until now. But let's see what happens when the theory is put into practice. Just today, when I was looking for additional information about this innovating system that had really got me started into promoting this cool stuff from Volvo, I came across an article that totally changed my opinion in this aspect.

Let's see how, at a media event in Sweden, the Swedish manufacturer chooses to show off its latest technology: the new collision detection system on the S60.  Because the theory you already know it: the sensors in the car detect obstacles in the road ahead, applying the brakes to slow or even stop the car before a big crunchy mess occurs.

As you can well see was not a success. What did Volvo said about it? The blame in the failure of the technology was a battery issue which, would have been easily spotted by a human driver. Of course, as they claimed, the collision detection system had also worked perfectly several times before the crash.

Maybe the sensors have failed, but as we can see, if there had been a driver in the driver's seat, he would have been in safety, because the S60's crash structures were effective.

Must recognise that it was a surprise, but still believe that Volvo can put it together, because the safest cars in the world still belong to this Swedish brand!