Volvo tests artificial intelligence in truck safety

Volvo Trucks North America, along with automated vehicle software provider Perceptive Automata and customer Dependable Highway Express (DHE), is proving the potential to raise drivers’ safety performance by leveraging human intuition artificial intelligence that predicts pedestrian, cyclist and motorist actions. The manufacturer recognizes the need for improved safety for all road users, specifically to augment situational awareness and better anticipate human behavior while on the road. It demonstrated a proof-of-concept, based on Perceptive Automata’s artificial intelligence software, with a Volvo VNR 300 regional-haul model at DHE’s Ontario, Calif., headquarters.

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Perceptive Automata’s artificial intelligence gauges the awareness of two pedestrians in the path of a Volvo VNR 300. The AI is able to track a practically unlimited number of pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles to enhance professional drivers’ situational awareness.

Perceptive Automata focuses on one of the most challenging problems for automated vehicles: Understanding the state of mind of humans in the road environment. Its AI software ingests data from on-vehicle sensors and, like humans, assesses in real-time the likely intention and awareness of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers by reading visual cues such as eye contact, posture, physical orientation, and head movements. Increased safety is achieved through continuous 360-degree monitoring of human road users near the truck and, when warranted, signaling to the driver and on-board automated systems increased risk based on changes in human intention. This enables earlier preventive actions by the driver, supported by the truck’s automated systems, to reduce the likelihood of accidents and help modulate the amount and severity of braking and acceleration.

“Volvo Trucks’ culture of safety and DHE’s service excellence align with our vision for the future of automated trucking and advanced driver support,” says Perceptive Automata CEO Sid Misra. “This project showcased how automation technology can enhance the situational awareness of truck drivers to reduce cognitive load and driver fatigue, and, ultimately, safe lives.”

“Safety is a core value and we continue to explore new and innovative ways to further enhance transportation safety, as well as improve driver support and comfort,” adds Volvo Group Research and Innovation Manager Aravind Kailas. “Automation and driver support enhancements that help predict and prevent potential incidents will be essential to improving road safety. While we recognize highly automated processes progress gradually, we have gained valuable information from this collaboration in a short period of time.”