Anyone who has driven on country roads has been in this situation at one point in time: You’re flying down the road and enjoying the solitude of a clear summer night’s drive when all of a sudden an animal steps into the road in front of you and you are forced to slam on the breaks or swerve. Whether you avoid these accidents or not, these occurrences happen far too often and the results can be devastating for animal, vehicle, and driver. In fact, in the US from 1993-2007 2,499 people have died in animal related car accidents.
In order to prevent these casualties and other accidents from occurring, Volvo is in the process of developing a system that will help prevent collisions like the fictional scenario above. This safety project is part of Volvo’s vision for 2020.
The first stage of this system involves infra-red light cameras that scan ahead for movement. When movement is detected a warning chime is issued to alert the driver of potential trouble ahead. If the driver fails to heed the warning and the object stays in place the computer in the car will slam on the brakes to prevent or lessen the force of the collision.
The second part of Volvo’s system involves immense data interpretation systems that analyze the behavior characteristics of various animals. The system information is being gathered by driving a car slowly along a path that has been laced with food to attract animals. As they pass they record the animal’s reactions and behavior. Eventually, this combined with the infra-red cameras should be able to accurately predict what an animal will do and react to prevent an accident. The system is right now working to recognize the differences between people, different types of deer, reindeer, and moose. This system should be ready in a few years and be part of a new age of computer controlled safety options.
Volvo researchers gathering animal behavior data