Cameras were rolling when a group of unsuspecting journalists stood in front of a Volvo XC60 to see a demonstration of its ‘self-parking’ feature, and the car suddenly plowed into them at full speed.
It happened in the Dominican Republic.
A local blogger uploaded the video on YouTube and it went viral, with most commenters assuming either the people were “idiots” or the car had simply malfunctioned.
“What kind of idiot stands in front of a car with no driver?” wrote one. “I can see there’s people in the car, and they obviously ran him over on purpose,” commented another. And so it went.
In fact, the Volvo couldn’t detect the humans because the owner didn’t buy a special feature called “pedestrian detection functionality.” Without it, the XC60 can only detect other cars.
“It appears as if the car in this video is not equipped with Pedestrian detection,” Volvo spokesperson Johan Larsson told the digital media site Fusion. “This is sold as a separate package.”
Larsson said even if he had it, the driver may have accidentally overridden the feature.
“The pedestrian detection would likely have been inactivated due to the driver inactivating it by intentionally and actively accelerating,” Larsson said. “Hence, the auto braking function is overrided by the driver and deactivated.”
According to the bloggers who uploaded the video, the journalists hit were “bruised but…ok.” Larsson said they should never have been standing there in the first place.
“Volvo Cars strongly recommends to never perform tests towards real humans.”
There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this story, but two are obvious. First, ALWAYS read the manual, and second, if you see a ‘self-parking car’ on the street, NEVER assume it can see you.