On the Frankfurt Motor Show, Volvo will premiere yet another world-first technology: Driver Alert Control (DAC) combined with Lane Departure Warning (LDW), aimed at preventing accidents caused by distraction and driver fatigue. The Swedish car maker, famed for world-first technologies such as world-first three-point seat belts in 1959 and side impact airbags (SIPS) in 1991, will offer the two-system package as an option, priced at £500, on the all-new V70, XC70 and S80 at the end of 2007. The technology is a response to studies showing that up to 90% of all traffic accidents are consequences of driver distraction.
How does it work?
Instead of monitoring human behaviour, Volvo's Driver Alert Control "monitors the progress of the car on the road ... and assesses whether it's being driven in a controlled, consistent manner." The DAC system assesses the impact that fatigue or distraction has on the car's movements through a camera, a number of sensors and a control unit. The camera, located between the windscreen and the interior rear view mirror, measures the distance between road lane markings and the car, while sensors monitor the car's movements. If the control unit assesses the risk as high, the system will make an audible signal and a coffee cup symbol will appear in the car's information display between the dials.
The LDW uses the same camera and makes a "gentle warning sound if the car crosses one of the road markings without reason such as if the indicator hasn’t been used." Volvo reckons this system can help prevent 30 to 40% of accidents that are caused by "single car road departures and head-on collisions."
Both systems are activated at 40 mph and remain active at speeds over 37 mph.
Daniel Levin, project manager for Driver Alert Control at Volvo Cars, points out that despite the aid of the system "it is, of course, always the driver’s responsibility to take a break when necessary, but sometimes you might not realise that you’re not alert enough to drive. In such situations, Driver Alert Control can help the driver make the right decision before the concentration level becomes too low."