On a small test course adjacent to its Rockleigh, NJ headquarters, Volvo Cars of North America LLC demonstrates its new pedestrian-protection technology with full autonomous braking.

The new system, which is engineered to automatically stop cars from hitting pedestrians at speeds of up to 16 mph (25 km/h), will be introduced in the '11 Volvo S60 sedan that goes on sale in September.

The system consists of a camera behind the rearview mirror and a radar unit installed behind the front grille of the car. Camera optics are similar to the human eye.

”If you can see it, the camera can see it,” says Adam Kopstein, manager, automotive safety and compliance for VCNA. The camera detects objects 164 ft. (50 m) ahead of the vehicle and has a 45-degree field of view.

The radar has a 60-degree field of view and can “see” 500-650 ft. (150-200 m) down the road.

Both the camera and radar are always on when the S60 is moving. Volvo engineers worked for a decade with Delphi Corp. to create the system. Algorithms were devised to recognize human head, neck, legs and shoulders of all sizes and shapes.

In a test drive, the system works as advertised — ultimately. That's because it's difficult to restrain reflexive braking when approaching an obstacle — even a dummy — in the road ahead.

The new pedestrian safety system stops the vehicle without the driver stepping on the brake. In the test at 16 mph, full braking force is applied to stop the vehicle about 4 ft. (1.2 m) in front of the dummy.

The pedestrian safety system brings Volvo a step closer to its announced goal of preventing auto fatalities completely in any Volvo by 2020.

About 4,700 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. by motor vehicles in 2007, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. data.