Video: New feature stops car before low-speed collision

Abby Jordan

When Bob Eddy aimed the Volvo XC60 at a trio of blue and white pylons, he didn't apply the brakes.

But as the SUV drew closer it stopped short on its own, just shy of a collision.

"That was pretty interesting," he said.

Eddy and his wife, Gail, who lived in Natick for 22 years and now call Westford home, were at Farrell Volvo in Southborough on Friday afternoon to look at the 2009 Volvo XC60 and to test out the SUV's new City Safety technology.

At speeds of 2-9 mph, the City Safety system uses laser technology to brake automatically and prevent a collision.

From 10 to 18 mph, it reduces the effect of an accident.

"It happens to everyone," said Joakim Alvarez, a Volvo tour manager. "You're distracted for a split second, by eating, cell phones or playing with the radio. It's for that moment when you're not paying attention."

Volvo is the first company to offer the technology as a standard feature. It is an option for Mercedes and Acura drivers.

The XC60 won't hit the market until March. But at Friday's event at Farrell Volvo, customers got a sneak peak of the SUV and a chance to try firsthand its City Safety system.

"If you were driving and came upon something, the instinct is to brake," Bob Eddy said. "But if a car pulled out, or a shopping cart was in front of you, it'd stop."

Bruce Karlson, who came to the event from Bellingham, said the system would take some getting used to, but is likely a useful safety tool.

"It's like an extra eye," he said. "In my neighborhood there's a lot of young children who can dart out at you, their toys. I can absolutely see the need for this."

With drivers distracted by kids in the backseat, text messaging or talking on cell phones or eating, the system can prevent many unnecessary accidents, Alvarez said.

The people who've tested the car's capabilities are typically impressed by its stopping ability, he said.

"People have been raving about this, saying, 'I didn't think this would be possible,"' he said.

The car also alerts drivers if they've strayed across a lane and can detect cars lurking in blind spots as an extra option.

Jim Farrell, president of Farrell Volvo, said he expects the car could become popular when it debuts in March, especially in a time of higher gas prices.

"As soon as gas hit $4 a gallon, everyone was trying to get out of their big trucks," he said. "People want a cross-over, something not so big."

Abby Jordan can be reached at 508-490-7461 or

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