Once the butt of jokes for its unfashionable safety conscious outlook, Volvo's active safety research continues to impress. The company's new Blind Spot Information System now recognises cars and motorcycles with a camera-based monitoring system that keeps a watchful eye on the 'blind' area alongside and offset rear of the car. The company has always focussed on improving blind spot vision becoming the first car maker to fit wide-angle door mirrors in 1979. The new BLIS will be offered as an option on XC70 wagon, S60 sedan and V70 wagon available in Australia in 2005. When another vehicle (motorcycle, car or truck) enters this zone - an area of 9.5 metres by 3.0 metres - a yellow warning light comes on beside the appropriate door mirror in the driver's peripheral view. The driver is thus given an indication that there is a vehicle very close alongside. This visual information gives the driver added scope for making the right decisions in such driving situations. A digital camera is installed on each door mirror. This small camera captures 25 images per second, and by comparing each frame taken, the system is able to recognise that a vehicle is within the BLIS zone.
The system's software is programmed to identify cars as well as motorcycles, in daylight and at night. Since BLIS is camera-based, it has the same limitations as the human eye does. This means the system will not function in conditions of poor visibility, for instance in fog or flying snow. If that happens, the driver receives a message that BLIS is not in action. BLIS is configured not to react to parked cars, road barriers, lampposts and other static objects. The system is active at all speeds above 10km/h. It reacts to vehicles that are driven a maximum of 20km/h slower and a maximum of 70km/h faster than the car itself.
BLIS can be deactivated via a button in the centre console.