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Pedestrian Detection demo goes wrong, Volvo XC60 plows into a crowd of onlookers

Automakers routinely hold events to show the public, the media and would-be buyers how their latest and greatest tech features work in real-life situations. Volvo is no exception, and the Swedish company recently held a safety demonstration in the Dominican Republic to show a group of intrigued onlookers how its innovative Pedestrian Detection feature works.

Pedestrian Detection uses a small grille-mounted radar and a high-definition camera to scope out the road ahead. At speeds of up to 30 mph, it automatically applies the brakes if it detects that the car is about to hit a pedestrian or someone on a bicycle. However, during the demonstration, things went horribly wrong and a brand-new XC60 ended up plowing into the crowd.

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The incident was caught on camera, something that is seemingly inevitable in today’s world. The 30-second video shows the XC60 slowly backing up, stopping for a few seconds, then surging toward participants and hitting two of them head-on. Luckily, according to the blog that uploaded the footage, the two men were “bruised but OK.” There’s no word on what shape the XC60 is in.

Volvo, a company known for building some of the world’s safest cars, was quick to respond to the incident. A spokesperson told the website DailyMail that the most likely scenario is that the XC60 used during the demonstration was quite simply not equipped with Pedestrian Detection. In the United States, the feature is not available on the base-model XC60; it’s part of the $1,500 Technology Package on the mid-level Premier trim, and it’s included as standard equipment on the Platinum trim.

The company added that, for safety reasons,  it’s possible to override the Pedestrian Detection system by accelerating, which is precisely what the driver did in the video. Finally, Volvo points out that it’s never a good idea to tests safety systems on human beings.