Volvo is keeping up with its reputation for safety – it is aiming to have no passenger in one of its cars injured or killed by 2020. The Swedish car company is looking to advanced safety tech like autonomous driving, animal detection, and intersection support to meet this goal.
According to Volvo, U.S. drivers spend between 25 and 30 percent of their time behind the wheel paying attention to something other than the road. Part of what Volvo is looking to do is to reduce the potential of accidents during events when the car’s computer could take over – things like stop-and-go traffic, intersections, and when an animal jumps into the road.
Volvo has already successfully proven its road train project earlier this year, showing that vehicles can autonomously take over control in monotonous driving situations like long highway slogs or heavy traffic. The cars utilize a set of cameras and radar sensors to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of them – steering, braking, and accelerating are all done by the computer with no driver intervention needed, even if there is an obstacle in the road.
The engineers from Sweden have also taken autonomous braking to the next level: they have developed technology that will allow the car to automatically brake itself if it detects an impending collision at an intersection. Volvo says that over 20 percent of fatalities in Europe and the U.S. happen because of crashes at intersections. “With our advanced technology we’re trying to do the same thing that people would do in the same situation if they have time to react. We want to provide assistance in as many situations as possible,” Mattias Brännström, the head of the Intersection Support program, said in a statement.
It is this accelerated human-like action that also brought Volvo to develop its animal detection system. Sweden has long been known for its “moose test” that checks the stability of a vehicle in an emergency lane change maneuver. Volvo has now created software that will automatically brake for an oncoming animal to reduce the chance of collision with the animal, lost stability, or crash with another vehicle. The automaker compiled data on the shapes, sizes, and movements of various animals to enable to software to be able to determine when, in fact, an animal is in the roadway.
In a prepared release, Jan Iversson, Volvo’s senior manager of safety strategy and requirements, stated “it is our intention that these advanced solutions will in future be fitted to all our cars. [We have] a vision of an accident-free traffic environment.”