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Volvo System Could Curb Road Kill

Next-generation City Safety system may prove kind to animals.

by on Oct.06, 2011

Volvo's City Safety can bring a car to a complete halt to avoid an accident. A variation may be able to spot animals on the road and avoid collisions.

It’s an unpleasant reality on the highway, but the folks at Volvo think they may have a way to cut back on the seemingly ever-present road kill using some of the same high-tech systems that the maker is using to curb inadvertent pedestrian collisions on city streets.

The new animal-friendly system is one way the now Chinese-owned Volvo hopes to build on its traditional reputation as an automotive safety leader.

Volvo has already won kudos for its latest active safety technologies, such as City Safety, which uses an infrared laser sensor attached to the windshield to monitor traffic in front of a vehicle.  At speeds ranging from 2 to 19 mph – typical on crowded urban and in rush hour traffic – the system will detect a potential collision.  If the driver doesn’t react by the time the two cars are 18 feet apart, it will automatically jam on the brakes.

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Another version of the system can detect pedestrians and can take steps to avoid an impact.  Such collisions make up a significant share of the roughly 35,000 Americans killed in roadway accidents each year.

Volvo engineers then began wondering about animals, who are killed in substantially larger numbers as the result of vehicle impacts each year.  And groups like PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, aren’t the only ones bothered by that toll.

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