NEW TECHNOLOGY will allow ambulances in Sweden to momentarily stop music playing in cars as they approach so drivers can move out of the way ahead of time.
The technology has been developed by students at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and it works whether the driver is listening to CDs, music via Bluetooth or the radio.
Not only will the ambulance stop music playing but it will also broadcast a voice warning that an ambulance is approaching and display a text warning on the dashboard where possible.
Florian Curinga, one of three students at KTH who developed the system - called EVAM - said that the technology had several benefits
"It fulfils three functions: improving accessibility for first responders, improving road safety and make the working environment in transport better for vulnerable professions," he says.
The system can also work out how early the warning needs to be depending on the type of traffic it is moving through to ensure it sends the message at the optimal time.
"We want to catch motorists' attention at an early stage, and mitigate stress that impairs road safety," said Mikael Erneberg, who studies industrial engineering at KTH.
The students behind the project said they were inspired to work on the project as improvements in car audio systems and sound insulation mean accidents involving ambulances and cars are on the increase.
"Often drivers have only a few seconds to react and give way to emergency vehicles," Erneberg added. "The optimal warning time is at least 10 to 15 seconds."
Whether such technology comes to the UK remains to be seen but no doubt those in the relevant departments in government may well keep tabs on the progress of the first deployments of the technology, given the potentially life-saving benefits it can offer. µ
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POKE no more. Oh wait, that was 30 years ago