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Ouch! Volvo's test car crashed into a truck during the demonstration.  (Source: YouTube)

An unblemished Volvo S60
Volvo gets egg on its face with Collision Warning System Demo

It's no secret that computers and advanced electronics are seemingly taking over many functions in today's vehicles. Volvo was happy to show off its latest technological advancements this week in Sweden and invited a score of journalists to watch the demonstration.

What Volvo didn't count on, however, was that the demonstration would be a failure.

Volvo was supposed to demonstrate how the its new S60 near-luxury sedan would avoid a stopped or slower moving obstacle in the direct path of the vehicle. Volvo's Collision Warning System is similar to other systems found in more expensive Lexus and Mercedes models.

Unfortunately for Volvo, the test went horribly wrong. After being hurtled down the test track at 30 mph towards a stopped truck, the Collision Warning System failed to function properly. So instead of applying the brakes to stop the vehicle from hitting the obstacle, the S60 instead kept going full speed ahead right into the back of the truck.

According to Wired, Volvo claims that the resultant crash was due to human error in prepping the vehicle.

However, it wasn't a total loss with regards to the failed braking test -- the passenger compartment of the S60 was left untouched and the windshield didn't even crack from the 30 mph collision -- so at least Volvo's reputation of building strong safety cages is still intact.

You can watch video of the failed demonstration here.

The all-new S60 will launch here in North America this fall and will be made available with a 300 hp / 325 lb-ft, 3.0-liter inline-6 engine.


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Wow great to see some honesty
By JasonMick (blog) on 5/7/2010 1:50:27 PM , Rating: 5
Volvo claims that the resultant crash was due to human error in prepping the vehicle.

My a$$.

Obviously this tech has a ways to go...

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By webdawg77 on 5/7/2010 1:52:47 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Just the ups and downs to testing any new kind of software. Plenty of bugs to work out. And this isn't something you'd want to beta test in the real world.

App crashes (in beta), no harm done. Car crashes (due to software bug), here come the lawsuits.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By lightfoot on 5/7/2010 2:39:24 PM , Rating: 5
Just because the software failed to work, does not mean that the car is any less safe.

The technology didn't cause the crash, it simply didn't prevent it.

Any driver who relies on technology like this to prevent an accident deserves any accident that they (the driver) cause.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By PerfectOne on 5/7/10, Rating: -1
RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By jRaskell on 5/7/2010 3:41:13 PM , Rating: 2
i.e. important phone call, someone in the car driving you nuts.

Wow, those were easily two of the WORST i.e.'s you could have used for your 'examples'.
The goal of the technology is to prevent an accident when the HUMAN makes a mistake.

the trouble with suchs goals is that too many humans tend to become reliant on such technology instead of relying on themselves. All these technologies still currently depend on the human driver themselves as the primary safety mechanism. A bad driver will STILL be a bad driver no matter how many safety systems are in place to compensate for the bad driving.

For example, anti-lock brakes have pretty much allowed virtually every common driver to get by without knowing any sort of proper braking technique whatsoever. While this may seem perfectly acceptable on the surface, anybody that has taken a serious defensive driving course knows that there are several avoidance maneuvers that require proper braking technique to execute properly. Of course, the entire concept of defensive driving is relatively foreign to the average American driver.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By jimbojimbo on 5/7/2010 4:33:15 PM , Rating: 2
When anti-lock brakes were getting rolled out everyone actually did think that accident levels would go down. They just didn't think that the sense of safety people felt led them to drive even more foolishly. In actuality crash levels stayed constant. Believe me if you had this car and let your teenager drive it, I would bet money they'd be curious if it worked and just drive straight into a friend's car to find out.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By lightfoot on 5/7/2010 4:39:37 PM , Rating: 4
And if it didn't work it would be the teenager's fault, not Volvo's.

By Camikazi on 5/8/2010 1:52:40 AM , Rating: 1
Really think that would matter? The parents would just start blaming Volvo for their crash prevention not working anyway and of course the media would go after Volvo for it.

By echtogammut on 5/11/2010 5:19:25 PM , Rating: 2
A major factor with anti-lock brakes not having an impact on accidents, was that people didn't know how to use them. People were so used to feathering the breaks to prevent a lockup, then didn't realize they needed to floor the pedal and hold it down to provide the best braking. This also happened in the first year ABS was introduced in racing, however unlike racers people don't test out their new equipment and get familiarized with it.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By lightfoot on 5/7/2010 4:28:08 PM , Rating: 5
Yes, but it is also possible for a seatbelt or airbag to fail in a crash. That doesn't mean that you stop putting them in cars. Like those technologies this technology does not in any way increase the likelihood of a crash. It simply mitigates the danger if a crash were already imminent.

As a test, it was an utter failure. As a technology, it should not be abandoned. Even if it only worked 1% of the time it would still be a significant improvement in safety. It just wouldn't justify the cost at that point.

You can't compare this failure with the sticky gas pedals on Toyotas or the flaming cruise control on Fords. Those were failures that killed people. This failure (even at its worst) would simply not save people. There is a very significant difference.

By Alexstarfire on 5/8/2010 2:55:54 AM , Rating: 4
Whoever died because of the "sticky" gas pedals in Toyota cars are just retarded. I'm not saying Toyota is in the clear or anything, but come on. If you don't even know other ways to stop your car than the regular brakes then you don't need to be driving. Cause at that point you're just an accident waiting to happen.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By Omega215D on 5/8/2010 12:37:53 AM , Rating: 5
Yes, it is our right to be irresponsible with potentially dangerous machinery. Most accidents are preventable if the offending driver did what they were supposed to as they were taught in drivers ed.

Rear ended someone because you were tailgating? It's called proper following distance.

Tires unexpectedly fail? Most of the time it's due to improper maintenance of tire pressures.

Losing control of a vehicle on wet roads? It's called adjusting your speed to the conditions as well as proper vehicle maintenance.

And the list goes on...

You want to drive? Earn the damn privilege.

By Alexstarfire on 5/8/2010 2:58:12 AM , Rating: 2
Amen. Too bad that's never going to change. It's only going to get worse.

I'm hoping we'll let Darwinism take over one day.... but I think that's just a fantasy.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By webdawg77 on 5/7/2010 4:22:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I didn't imply "blame the car". I meant good thing Volvo is testing this so there cannot be a "pass the buck" situation with the software during a crash.

I agree that in the end people should not be reliant on technology to prevent something that could be easily avoided.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By webdawg77 on 5/7/2010 4:25:06 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm, where's the edit DT (on wishlist for years)?

It's good that Volvo is testing to get things right in the software.

And the majority of accidents today it seems could be avoided by the drivers paying attention to driving instead of the myriad of distractions in the car.

By lightfoot on 5/7/2010 4:38:13 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, my biggest issue was with Jason Mick's statement:
Obviously this tech has a ways to go...

You implicitly seemed to agree. With life saving technology, they do not need to be 100% effective. It simply needs to be better than what currently exists.

Yes, Volvo might be sued if the technology failed, but to prove liability (beyond merely the cost of the optional equipment) you would have to prove that the presence of the technology actually made the crash worse than would have otherwise occured.

By PrinceGaz on 5/8/2010 9:48:07 AM , Rating: 1
If I am relying on this system to apply the brakes whilst I'm driving along a long straight road reading a book occasionally glancing up to make sure I'm still correctly in lane, then the failure of the system to stop the car for me definitely makes the car less safe.

By theArchMichael on 5/8/2010 9:27:27 PM , Rating: 2
Technically... the car is less safe, as I am sure that Volvo will promote this feature along with all of the other safety features of the vehicle, comprising the safety system. Failure of this safety feature reduces the advertised comprehensive safety of the vehicle.

Also, implying that the driver is at fault at all times for this type of collision is misleading. There are several fairly common scenarios where other drivers, animals, unmanned obstactles, may obstruct the path of the car outside the window of human response time to avoid / reduce damage of a collision. So in such a scenario, a responsible driver would be worse off without such a feature, because the situation is out of his/her control, because of the limitations of human reaction time.

Not to mention that when you're in the dealership lot talking to the sweaty car salesman about how much he can take off of MSRP, he is going to say... " awww I don't know if we can let it go for that price, it has the new high tech safety system that avoids front end collisions... you could get a regular car and save $10,000... I guess it all depends on how much you love your family..."
So to pay a premium for the safety, with no level of expectation of "using" the tech, is completely reasonable. As would be suing in the instance that one became aware that there was hardware/software failure due to manufacturer defect.

I think you could compare it to the airbag in the drivers wheel. If you were in a front end collision and it failed to deploy which led to your face being smashed in.... well I imagine you'd be rightly pissed.

By carniver on 5/7/2010 2:01:51 PM , Rating: 3
The tech was set up on the truck instead, so that IS a human error :D

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By iFX on 5/7/2010 2:14:41 PM , Rating: 3
Same thing happened years ago to Mercedes when demonstrating their crash avoidance system.

By Captain Orgazmo on 5/9/2010 5:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yup... they forgot to turn it on. It was pretty funny.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By porkpie on 5/7/2010 2:50:29 PM , Rating: 4
"My a$$."

Just a guess, but I imagine the system is switchable on or off, and whoever prepped the vehicle simply forgot to turn it on.

Whether or not that's the case, I firmly believe that in ~20 years, auto collisions are going to be a thing of the past. Our grandchildren won't believe us when we tell them tens of thousands died each year from them.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By tedrodai on 5/7/2010 3:00:06 PM , Rating: 5
I tend to agree with you about the demo problem. However, if I were a gambling man, I'd bet my worldly possessions that we won't solve the problem of auto collisions in 20 years. Anything considered fool-proof just hasn't met the right fool.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By Motoman on 5/7/2010 3:27:49 PM , Rating: 2
...and we have a limitless supply of fools. And they all seem to have driver's licenses - for some reason.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By jimbojimbo on 5/7/2010 4:34:16 PM , Rating: 3
And reproducing like the government is giving money away for it. Oh wait they are!

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By ekv on 5/8/2010 3:40:40 AM , Rating: 2
D'oh! 8)

By banvetor on 5/7/2010 5:33:55 PM , Rating: 3
as the saying goes... "God has limited human intelligence, but He has not limited human stupidity."

By icanhascpu on 5/9/2010 4:50:15 PM , Rating: 2
Foolproof. That takes me back. Small story inc..

Back to high school and the large Mac-lab we had. Lots of all in one macs and they all had a security system called "Foolproof" on them.

I was very new to computers (this was the mid 90s), but I wanted to play with them and Foolproof got in the way of that. How did I manage to bypass it? I found out that pressing shift on bootup in the old 7.6 OS days stopped extensions from loading. Foolproof didnt load when I did this so I could do things it would otherwise not let me.

I felt like suck a hacker. lol I told my best friend and anyone that would listen for days how I hacked the computer lab to do my bidding, and felt it highly ironic how idiotically easy it was coupled with the name of the software.

By RevHawkeye on 5/11/2010 6:54:44 AM , Rating: 2
As soon as you make something foolproof, someone will create a better fool. or

Siwiak's Rule:
The only way to make something foolproof is to keep it away from fools.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By mxnerd on 5/9/2010 2:49:40 PM , Rating: 2
porkpie always think technology can solve everything, it can't.

By tedrodai on 5/7/2010 2:55:39 PM , Rating: 2
Wow great to see some honesty

Volvo claims that the resultant crash was due to human error in prepping the vehicle.

My a$$.

That's a childish way to express the idea, though it could be true. I'm very familiar with the problems that can occur with demonstration of technology under development. In my experience, their explanation is at least as likely as any other for a problem in a demo. Any number of last minute changes to their system prior to the demo or even just a bumble-headed mistake with installing/configuring it fits that statement.

If they were billing this as a ready-to-deploy feature, then you're probably right. Otherwise, I don't see why you'd blatantly call it a lie.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By Hieyeck on 5/7/2010 3:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
Mercedes had a simliar case when they were demoing their unit. They invited the media and the test driver "forgot to turn the system on".


RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By lainofthewired on 5/8/2010 11:57:39 PM , Rating: 2
Human error or otherwise, someone's about to lose their job.

RE: Wow great to see some honesty
By Omega215D on 5/9/2010 10:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
Well... you gotta remember it takes a special type to throw that switch and all... I think they should hire someone who graduated from MIT.

By piroroadkill on 5/10/2010 3:44:32 AM , Rating: 2
They're waiting for you Gordon; in the test chamber

"strong safety"
By rvd2008 on 5/7/2010 3:39:10 PM , Rating: 2
soooo, where is airbag in the picture?
I would expect it to be deployed at this crash and speed ...

RE: "strong safety"
By sgtdisturbed47 on 5/7/2010 7:04:06 PM , Rating: 2
Lots of cars have a button somewhere on the dash or console that disables the passenger-side airbag. Chances are it was disabled. What's the point of having it enabled when there aren't any passengers.

RE: "strong safety"
By jjmcubed on 5/7/2010 9:14:09 PM , Rating: 2
True ten years ago.

Now they turn the passenger side airbag off automatically if there isn't sufficient weight in the seat.

No Worries
By bplewis24 on 5/7/2010 2:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
According to Wired, Volvo claims that the resultant crash was due to human error in prepping the vehicle.

Ahh, okay problem. It's not like there's a chance for human error in real-life, now is there? ;)


Bad luck : )
By Grabo on 5/7/2010 3:13:48 PM , Rating: 2
Chief of press for Volvo PV said 'We've no doubt tried this 400 times already..and then on the 401th, crash bom bang.' In front of all the cameras..

Human error.
By HolgerDK on 5/8/2010 9:29:28 AM , Rating: 2
Actually Volvo revealed that the car battery lost all power and was then charged up - which damaged the electronics causing the test to fail.

Seems like the human error was in charging the batteries :)

Volvo's explanation in Swedish:
Omedelbart före demonstrationen visade det sig att bilens batteri var helt urladdat. Man gjorde då en snabbladdning av batteriet, som troligtvis skadat elektroniken. På bilens instrumentbräda var en varningslampa för felaktigt system tänd. Testdockan som satt i bilen var dock för dum för att meddela yttervärlden om felet. Sista meningen min slutledning.

By AnnihilatorX on 5/11/2010 5:39:56 AM , Rating: 2
Collision Warning System


/'w?rn??/ Show Spelled[wawr-ning] Show IPA
the act or utterance of one who warns or the existence, appearance, sound, etc., of a thing that warns.
something that serves to warn, give notice, or caution: We fired a warning at the intruders.

Collision Avoidance System would be a better name, oh wait, the demo didn't work. Maybe it was really human error and the system is indeed a warning system.

The dumbing down of the world
By YashBudini on 5/14/2010 9:24:37 PM , Rating: 2
At some point this crap will become manadated by the government. Why? Because the police and the lobbyist-raped politicians refuse to address the idiots on their cell phones.

By sapiens74 on 5/7/2010 2:03:14 PM , Rating: 1
The Truth Comes out!

My guess
By bug77 on 5/7/10, Rating: 0
My Eyes!
By Wally Kalbacken on 5/7/10, Rating: -1
"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

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