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The accident-free car may be just around the corner.

The accident-free car may be just around the corner

Car-maker Volvo aims to ensure that, by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.

The so-called 'Vision 2020' involves not only using new protective measures inside the car, but also technology for communicating dangers to and from the vehicle.

In the October 2010 issue of Information Age, Brandon reports: 'With magnesium and carbon-fibre parts in strategic locations, active safety systems that slow the car as it follows curves in the road and vehicle-to-vehicle communication that warns the driver about approaching traffic, future cars will be much safer to drive.' Other technologies, such as road-sign recognition and pedestrian detection, will also lead to safer cars.

Ford is among the other firms moving from passive safety features, which protect passengers during a crash, to active features that can prevent crashes altogether.

Computer simulation is playing an enormous role in helping manufactures to develop safer vehicles. Brandon reveals that the old system of running physical prototype vehicles into a barrier and then analysing the results on computer has largely given way to using computer simulations as the main test method, with the physical prototype employed only at the end after the car has passed every virtual crash test.

He author warns, though, of challenges ahead. First, it may be difficult to get car companies to decide on and conform to a single standard for car communication. Secondly, WiFi is difficult to make work in a moving vehicle.

In Volume 42, Issue 10 of Industrial Engineer, published in October 2010, Chakravorty describes a tool, devised by Toyota, which may be helpful in overcoming these and other challenges - the A3 problem-solving report. Named after the paper size on which the report is printed, the A3 report essentially defines the problems associated with the target area, analyses existing conditions, considers possible solutions and outlines the results and follow-up activities.

Chakravorty explains: 'The A3 report is an effective tool because it contains not only text, but also pictures, diagrams and charts, all of which enrich and clarify the data. The idea is to streamline the report so that it focuses only on the problem, its solution and nothing else.'

The author advises that the improvement team should not be too large (eleven may be about the optimum size), improvements should normally be completed within four weeks and sufficient resources should be made available for the improvements to be implemented.

Russell, meanwhile, examines a quality-management technique in use at high-performance sports-car manufacturer McLaren's technology centre at Woking, Surrey. The company's 'build-concern-report' system allows any employee to report a quality issue and provide input into a quality 'steering list' for the whole organization. The system is strengthened by a series of standard quality checks in line with ISO 9001 requirements.

Russell explains how these techniques are being applied to the current development of the MP4-12C 600-horsepower luxury sports car, which the company claims is set to rewrite the rules of sports-car design through Formula 1-inspired engineering, revolutionary chassis architecture and absolute focus on efficiency.