By on July 19, 2010

Press events are such highly-managed affairs, that it’s rare to see something go wrong at one. But that’s exactly what happened at this Volvo demonstration of a collision avoidance system onboard a new S60 sedan. And as much fun as it is to see a car that’s supposed to be (nearly) uncrashable getting crumpled up on a stationary object, perhaps the most delightfully schadenfreude-soaked moment in this video is watching Volvo’s hapless PR rep tap dancing in embarrassment while explaining that this was not, in fact, a proper demonstration of Volvo’s collision-avoidance system. Moments like these are rare… savor them.

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16 Comments on “Volvo Brakes It Down...”

  • avatar

    Moments like these are rare… savor them.

    Why should I savor them?

    Just a few weeks ago I witnessed a women in a CRV traveling at near highway speeds rear end an Accord that was at a dead stop in traffic on 93-north out of Boston. Why wouldn’t we want these technolgies to work? It’s not like the political will exists to restrict driving only to the highly competent.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think anyone is suggesting we should savor car accidents. I think the delight in this video is in watching a carefully planned event go completely (and harmlessly) wrong.

      We’re supposed to enjoy watching the PR man, who normally sticks to script, find himself without a suitable one.

      Unless you’re in the PR/marketing business, you’ll never know just how carefully crafted and staged the things you see and read really are. This video is a pleasant exception. And for the record, I think the PR man handled it nicely.

    • 0 avatar

      JMO –

      Easy there, Tex. I don’t think anyone is suggesting we should savor the failure of a practical collision avoidance system, rather we should enjoy the fun of watching a tightly managed PR stunt fail spectacularly.

      It would be the equivalent of watching Steve Jobs on stage and an iPhone crashing during the demonstration. Ouch.

  • avatar

    Or, to add another example of where these technologies might come in hady. I was once rear ended by a woman who was too busy reaching back to beat her kids to notice that the light turned red.

    Does the political will exist to prevent harried highly distracted mothers of three from driving? No.

    • 0 avatar

      You’d really rather have her driving around, “trusting” the car to stop her, leaving her free to beat her children? What happens when city braking can only stop your car at 20 MPH, and she’s counting on it at 55?

      There is a down side to these technologies, you know. It’s called Driver Compensation, and it’s a terrible thing. Google it sometime.

      You know how to kill a teenage girl? Tell her that she really has to watch the road and not send text messages, but if she f—-s it up, the car will stop FOR her.

      City braking is a terrible idea. It will only reduce collisions if the drivers don’t know they have it.

  • avatar

    Was there a real person driving this car? If so, it’s nice that no one came out to see if they were ok….COLD.

  • avatar

    I’m reminded of Mercedes’ demonstration of a similar technology from a few years back, and the similar hand-wringing and excuse-pandering.

    It’s a pity, really, because these are useful technologies when they work. The fact is that not everyone is a perfect driver, that much of this is accomplished in software (and weighs nothing) and that whiplash really sucks. Even if I never rear-end anyone myself, I know that some people make a career of it**, and I’d rather not be their next victim.

    ** my mother in law, for example, has managed it five times

  • avatar

    TBH, I think the Volvo did pretty well itself, nonetheless. The front wheel case is barely hit at all. Do wonder where the airbag is though.

    • 0 avatar

      Does it look like it was going fast enough to trigger an air-bag deployment? As I understand it, if you have your seatbelt buckled, the car won’t trigger the airbag until a much higher speed.

  • avatar

    The best part is the demonstration of how well the “Rain Sensing” wipers work when Anti-freeze is spraying all over the place! Insult to injury.

  • avatar

    Car accidents aren’t funny by any means, as my mother and sister found out a few years ago when a man driving a Dodge Ram happened to not notice the bright blue Dodge Caravan stopped in front of him. And a Caravan is no Volvo S60. My mom and sis were okay (except for that dreaded whiplash), but the van wasn’t. This tech would be a great addition to any car, as long as it works.

    This video, on the other hand, made me laugh BOTH times I watched it. It’s just so funny because you fully expect the car to start braking and stop safely behind that trailer, and then it just, doesn’t. Hilarious.

  • avatar

    Interesting that it failed outdoors. The Mercedes system famously didn’t work because it wasn’t even turned on (it was an indoor test and the system doesn’t work indoors), the driver was supposed to run over something and then hit the brakes to “simulate” what would happen if the system was on.

  • avatar

    Ah, but if you pay close attention to the video, you’ll notice that there is one piece of high-tech that *is* working: the auto-on windshield wipers. The car emerges with the hanger with the wipers off, hits the immovable object, the radiator bites the big one and the ensuing cloud of steam sets off the auto-on windshield wipers. Good Volvo, Good, good Volvo. Now roll over and play dead and wiggle your tires in the air.
    Though I guess….there’s the famous geek putdown of “You fail the Turing Test”, so I guess if people can zone out and run into a parked car, why then it’s only fair to have the car zone out…….

  • avatar

    This PR guy needs to go back to school. The first thing out of his mouth could have been:

    1) “and ladies and gentlemen, you see how the S60 safely avoided these concrete barriers right here, and that horrendous embankment over there, as well as demonstrating how safe it is in a collision; thank you for your time have a nice day.” Exit, stage left.

    2) “We didn’t like that one anyway.”

    3) “Okay folks, what’ll you bid for a slightly used S60?”

    4) “And that concludes our test of the Swedish Navy’s new catapult system. Any questions?”

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