Pedestrian Protection Doesn’t Come Standard in Volvo’s “City Safety” System

Warning: This video contains a disturbing moment of violence.

Via Kashmir Hill at Fusion, this video from a Dominican blog shows the scary results of a self-parking Volvo demonstration gone wrong. (No one was seriously hurt.)

The car was equipped with Volvo’s “city safety” system, which apparently lulled the crowd around it into dropping their guard. But as Hill reports, the city safety feature is designed only to prevent rear-ending other cars in slow-moving traffic. “Pedestrian detection” is an add-on that costs an additional $3,000.

“Keeping the car safe is included as a standard feature, but keeping pedestrians safe isn’t,” writes Hill.

Even if the car came with pedestrian detection, Volvo told Hill, a driver who hits the accelerator would deactivate it. The utopia of driverless cars that can avoid all crashes is still a long way off.

  • R.A. Stewart

    Maybe that’s the whole idea. Pedestrians don’t know their place? Mow ’em down.

  • DrunkEngineer

    Not the first time Volvo has suffered an embarassing failure during a demonstration of its self-driving technology (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eChAKm1t3U ).

  • Newk

    This whole self-driving car technology has got to be all or nothing. If the driver is able to override things when it suits them it is never going to be safe for pedestrians. Drivers hate being inconvenienced. If a tap of the gas pedal is all it takes to override the pedestrian safety feature that’s practically the same as not having it at all.

    On the flip side of things I’m imagining a world were pedestrians can completely stop cars in their tracks just by walking into the street. Imagine the power! Sadly, I don’t think drivers would ever be okay with giving pedestrians this type of power over their personal steel bubble.

  • Jake Wegmann

    And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why self-driving cars changing our entire transportation system is something that’s going to take a whole lot longer than 5-10 years.

  • David P.

    This was not a failure of the car or its technology – it was a failure of the driver to understand his car’s capabilities and to exercise correct judgment.

  • Joe R.

    Totally agree. Once self-driving technology is at the point where cars can avoid all obstacles then we just can’t let humans back into the loop. At that stage we would just no longer have controls to allow a person to drive. Of course, this also means we would no longer allow older, “manually driven” vehicles on public roads. Despite this video, I’m still keen on self-driving technology. If nothing else, governments and insurance companies would be the ones pushing it. Cash-starved governments would save a ton of money on police, emergency services, hospitalization, and lawsuits once collisions were more or less a thing of the past.

    Another advantage to self-driving cars is vehicle utilization. Once the driver is out of the loop, it probably doesn’t even make any sense to own a car any more. You can just have fleets which function as on-demand car services. You could serve a lot more people with fewer vehicles by utilizing them 24 hours a day, instead of only an hour or two. And since these vehicles would rarely need to be parked for long, you could do away with most parking. Another advantage is greater utilization of road space. Vehicles can run bumper to bumper no matter the speed. You won’t need things like traffic signals either to keep vehicles from colliding with each other, or with crossing pedestrians.

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