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Volvo Safety Demo Goes Poorly

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the that-wasn't-supposed-to-happen dept.

Transportation 34

Lanxon writes "At a demonstration of Volvo's new collision warning system in Sweden this week, Wired got first-hand experience (and video) of what happens when it goes badly wrong. The new Volvo S60, due for release later this year, was fired out of Volvo's testing tunnel at around 30MPH, and the collision detection system should have kicked in, bringing the car automatically to a halt before hitting the truck in its path. It didn't. Instead, the brand new car ploughed into the back of the truck in front of us, and indeed the world's press who had gathered in Sweden to see the collision detection system in action."

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Sounds like they needed... (4, Funny)

clone52431 (1805862) | more than 4 years ago | (#32133122)

A crash course in safety.

YEEAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Typical (4, Funny)

Mick R (932337) | more than 4 years ago | (#32137320)

Much like regular Volvo drivers, it was oblivious to everything around it.

Re:Typical (1)

Gazoogleheimer (1466831) | more than 4 years ago | (#32148706)

Post-Ford Volvo drivers, thank you very much...

Re:Typical (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150554)

Much like regular Volvo drivers, it was oblivious to everything around it.

Post-Ford Volvo drivers, thank you very much...

Volvo drivers have had this reputation for ages -- the first jokes I remember about them were from the early '80s -- long before ford had anything to do with it.

Re:Typical (1)

jitterman (987991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157618)

Amongst motorcyclists they're known as "Ovlov"s - they tend to tail you so closely that you can easily read the name on the fascia in your vibrating, usually-hard-to-use rear view mirror with no problems at all. I don't think this detection system is going to really help remove that unfortunate reputation.

Re:Typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32160262)

I poke fun at my dad who has been an ultra-loyal Volvo customer since 1971. He still thinks that Sweden is a socialist country where factory workers have a say in the workings of the corporation. Even before Volvo was bought by Ford it was in decline. It was a mongrel car who's parts came from all over Europe and were not integrated very well.

How fast? (3, Insightful)

saturndude (609090) | more than 4 years ago | (#32145136)

The article (I read it) said "around 30 MPH", but the car had "35 KMH" printed on it (which is approximately 22 MPH).

Are the reporters bad with numbers or did they forget the metric system?

Re:How fast? (2, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32147448)

I read up on this a bit. The reporter who quoted that number used to work for NASA but he got fired for some reason.

Re:How fast? (1)

hallux.sinister (1633067) | more than 4 years ago | (#32176390)

Whoa! Check out the brain on saturndude! :-)

The future? (2, Interesting)

thepike (1781582) | more than 4 years ago | (#32149206)

This is why I'm afraid of cars in the future. They'll have all these safety features, people will forget how to drive (even the little bit they know) and rely on the car, and things will go wrong.

FTA:

"had a human been driving, he or she would have noticed the system was not operating correctly"

And they would have ignored it. Like every check engine light in the world that no one cares about.

Re:The future? (1, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157248)

Like it or not, automotive technology is headed toward fully autonomous vehicles. And the result will be safer roads. Once these systems are perfected (or perfected to within a few hundredths of a percent of perfection), the statistical likelihood of an accident due to malfunction will be infinitesimal compared to the statistical likelihood of an accident due to the fact many humans are complete fucking idiots behind the wheel. The sooner we remove these people from any equation involving my safety on the road, the better. And this is coming from somebody who is a "car guy" who loves driving.

Other advantages - such as the ability to safely increase traffic densities by 100% or more - are just icing on the cake.

Re:The future? (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 4 years ago | (#32160142)

Many already have thank you very much.

Re:The future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32160938)

This is why I'm afraid of cars in the future. They'll have all these safety features, people will forget how to drive (even the little bit they know) and rely on the car, and things will go wrong.

Despite the extent of the safety program. it was essentially a good idea. But unforeseen complications had arisen. People became accustomed to cars which went undamaged in lO-mph collisions. They gave even less thought than before to the possibility of being injured in a crash. As a result, they tended to worry less about clearances and rights-of-way, so that the accident rate went up a steady six percent every year. But the damages and injuries actually decreased, so the government was happy, the insurance industry was happy and most of the car owners were happy.

from A Nice Morning Drive [2112.net]

Re:The future? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32161838)

you make fun of that check engine light.. i have a 2001 Volvo S80... by far the crappiest car i have EVER owned.. it is less reliable than my 30+ year old MG.... i had the idler pulley designate while at a stop light.. thrashing that motor and bent 16 valves.. from my point sounded like it just turned off.. not once did the check engine or service light come on.. in fact the in-dash computer was still registering zero messages.

old Volvo's where good cars.. Ford makes great trucks (except late90's early 2k's) but they make one shittty ass Volvo.

Re:The future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32162386)

This is common to all Volvo's from the 850 on, and not just Volvo's either.

The modern engines use an interference design, meaning the opened valves and top-dead-center pistons occupy the same space at different times.

The benefit is higher compression and efficiency, and you've obviously experienced the drawback. If the timing belt/chain snaps, that's all she wrote.

Unfortunately, there really is no reliable way to detect an imminent timing belt failure. This is what the dealer was talking about when they lectured you about scheduled maintenance. 75K for timing belts, and the full kit includes idler pulley, tensioner, water pump, and accessory drive belt. If you aren't certain of when it was replaced, then expect it to snap when you start it tomorrow morning.

FAIL for not staying on top of your maintenance. To be fair, the early S80 was just about the biggest pain in the ass ever to bear the marque.

Doesn't belong in Idle (4, Insightful)

Chicken_Kickers (1062164) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150362)

This article actually doesn't belong in the Idle section. This is a very serious issue with wide-ranging ramifications, i.e. the automation of our automobiles (hah!). I have said before, and I will say it again, we have gone past the point where adding any more automation to the car will do any good, instead of improving the driver's skills.

Auto Train (1)

rusl (1255318) | more than 4 years ago | (#32150730)

A train is the only safe car on autopilot.

Re:Auto Train (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32153720)

Nothing can stop a train.

Re:Auto Train (1)

tiptone (729456) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157396)

And even trains aren't on autopilot. :)

Re:Doesn't belong in Idle (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 4 years ago | (#32152690)

I wholeheartedly agree. As a matter of fact i'd actually go further and strip out a bunch of convenience features too. Like indicators that are supposed to turn themselves off. Except they seldom do it at the right time, if at all leading to peole not indicating when they should be or indicating when they shouldnt, respectively. I've been seriously considering taking apart the steering column in my car to work out how to do it for myself at least.

Modern drivers are lazy, electric windows i can understand but if a driver is too dumb to be able to flick a switch to turn a flashing orange light off by themselves it does not bode well for their ability to drive at all.

Re:Doesn't belong in Idle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32155488)

if a driver is too dumb to be able to flick a switch to turn a flashing orange light off

You can turn those off???

Re:Doesn't belong in Idle (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32169282)

I think GP's referring to the turn signals. And yes, unless you're in Ballard you're able to do so otherwise you're liable to have people thinking you're turning.

Down with automation! (3, Interesting)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32152736)

An excellent demonstration...of why automation should never attempt to take control of a car. Software errors, hardware failures, unreliable sensor technology, and an endless supply of unforeseeable situations mean that automation simply cannot be reliable.

Example: Our car has collison sensors - in heavy snowstorms, they warn us continually of imminent crashes with snowflakes.

Re:Down with automation! (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32157286)

... just because the beta technology in your car does this, don't assume that production vehicles in 20 years won't have this solved.

Re:Down with automation! (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32160628)

So what are you saying? In 20 years mankind will have somehow managed to create sensors and hardware that can never fail, and completely bug-free software that can handle every situation that will every happen anywhere anytime ever?

Wow, you weren't a "Titanic" engineer in a previous life were you?

There is nothing wrong with trying to improve quality and function, but when people stop being humble epic failures usually follow.

Re:Down with automation! (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32161366)

Close. What I am saying is that in 20-40 years mankind will have somehow managed to create sensors and hardware that fail less often than humans do, along with relatively bug-free software that can handle the vast majority of driving situations better than humans, as well as being able to fail gracefully better than most humans.

My "magical thinking" is based on two underlying assumptions:
1) A significant number of people out there really suck at driving, and barely manage to keep out of trouble during "normal" conditions.
2) I don't care whether a machine or a person makes the mistake; I am equally dead or injured if I get hit by a moving car. Failure of automatic systems makes for good headline news, but if the statistical incidence of crashes is reduced when compared to a 100% of vehicles being piloted by (highly fallible) humans, then that is a win for society.

Driving is among the most dangerous everyday activities that people engage in. It isn't exactly a high bar we're setting when we expect that machines will someday do better than humans.

Re:Down with automation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32162234)

The problem is that manufacturers are implementing high-technology where it is not needed, desired, or even beneficial.

No one I know has ever said "I wish they'd get rid of that damned throttle linkage...I bet using electrical pulses to drive a solenoid would be way better."

Just wait until all cars use 100% electronic breaking systems.

100% computer-driven functions are best suited for things like climate control, not life and death operations like steering, throttle, and breaking control.

Re:Down with automation! (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32162316)

You mean like in airplanes?

Re:Down with automation! (1)

andyh3930 (605873) | more than 4 years ago | (#32167290)

But airplanes are manufactured at a lot higher quality than cars, have multiple redundant system as well as a highly trained humans ready to take over control and recognise when to take over control when there is trouble, unlike your average Joe Sixpack in his SUV. Also airplanes are serviced at strict regular intervals to prevent faults occurring and in general airspace the aircraft fly through is highly regulated. Making automation simpler than on the ground.

Re:Down with automation! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32169302)

Just keep telling yourself that. The aviation industry has had a problem with being way too cozy with regulators for some time now. And a tendency to ignore necessary maintenance to boot.

Re:Down with automation! (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32173298)

they warn us continually of imminent crashes with snowflakes.

They just don't want you to plow (haha) into any innocent snowmen.

Hee Hee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32154328)

I didn't know Toyota had bought out Volvo.
  (sorry, had to)

The test was NOT a failure. (1)

hallux.sinister (1633067) | more than 4 years ago | (#32176500)

It was a perfect demonstration of what happens when the one piece of safety equipment which could have prevented this was replaced by an inferior technology: the part they left out was AN ALERT DRIVER. I dearly love how car companies try to find more and more exotic ways to relieve the driver of his one BASIC RESPONSIBILITY while driving a car: DRIVING THE CAR. And it fails, of course, as I could only have hoped it would. Just wish I could have seen it in person. Until computers are truly smarter than we are, (and being able to count faster doesn't count,) they will not be effective at replacing us. Next time you think a computer is smarter than a person, ask it who the better captain was, Kirk or Picard. Ask it to defend it's response. If it can do that, MAYBE it is as smart as a person. (If, without being pre-programed to do so, it replies "Why are you wasting time with such a stupid question?" and it actually knows WHY it's a stupid, time wasting question, it will have demonstrated achievement of sentience. Bonus points if it replies "Neither, Malcolm Reynolds!")
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