What happens when technology fails us?
If you think technology will deliver us from driver distraction, just watch this video of a Volvo crash test!
The pedestrian avoidance system was designed by Volvo to detect and avoid hitting a pedestrian thereby improving pedestrian safety. In the video, 1 out of 4 tests resulted on a system failure where the vehicle braked too late to avoid impact.
The system uses a combination of forward sensing radar and a camera to detect pedestrians and can cut power to the accelerator and initiate braking. The testing was too dangerous to do with human volunteers (as was evident in the video), so they used an inflatable mannequin named "Bob".
Bob didn't fair well in the tests. He was initially blown over by the wind. Then after they added sand for weight and an aluminum reflector to guarantee a reflection on the radar, Bob was struck three times out of 12 tests.
This is one of several attempts to add technology to the vehicle to improve safety. Some of the technical details will no-doubt be worked out by the auto manufactures. But, a bigger concern is that we humans tend to take on more risks as the vehicle is made safer. Add anti-lock brakes and we drive faster or closer to other vehicles.
If we are distracted by our cell phone or other device instead of paying attention to the road, then these technological fixes may not make us any safer.
Rest up, Bob. Looks like you will be busy...