More than 20% of all accidents involving trucks take place in traffic queues or similar situations. That is why Volvo Trucks has developed a system called Automated Queue Assistance (AQuA) which helps the driver in slow-moving queues by taking control of the vehicle.
HAVEit (Highly Automated Vehicles for Intelligent Transport) is an EU project whose purpose is the development of next-generation intelligent vehicles. Since the project got under way in 2008, a total of seven intelligent and autonomous solutions have been developed. They are now being demonstrated as the project reaches its conclusion. One of the systems being shown is Volvo Trucks’ Automated Queue Assistance, AQuA, which was developed in co-operation with Volvo Technology.
“Driving in a traffic queue is a very monotonous process. The driver may be at a standstill for long periods of time and in such a situation it is easy to become distracted, leading to accidents,” says Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic and Product Safety Director, Volvo Trucks.
The technology developed for AQuA helps minimise risks in queues. By equipping the truck with a number of technical features that can take control of the vehicle’s steering and speed, the driver gets help in driving the vehicle and maintaining a proper level of concentration.
When a traffic queue builds up, the driver can choose whether or not to activate the system, which operates at low speeds. It is possible to retake manual control at any time. The driver is always ultimately responsible for the vehicle, so to ensure proper focus on the traffic a camera registers how attentive the driver is and issues an alert if it detects a lack of concentration.
The aim of AQuA is to reduce the driver’s burden behind the wheel, improve safety and reduce environmental impact by preventing accidents which in turn may cause new traffic queues. However, it will be some time before we see AQuA on the market – the technology needs further refinement. Furthermore, end-customer acceptance of the new technology is a critical factor.
“Our experience shows that it takes time for people to build up faith and hand over control to new systems. Having said that, development of the AQuA technology is an indication of what the future might offer,” says Carl Johan Almqvist.
He continues, “Volvo Trucks is investing heavily in further development of this type of support system for our drivers. This development is an important part of the drive to reach our zero vision, whereby no Volvo trucks are to be involved in any accidents, anywhere.”
Within the framework of the HAVEit project, Volvo has also developed an additional function known as Active Green Driving (AGD), which has thus far been tested in Volvo buses, as well as Brake-by-Wire technology, an entirely electro-mechanical braking system that has the potential for improving performance and stability during braking.
For more information: www.volvotrucks.com