Sensors as the eyes, computers as the brain and the brakes as the muscles.
A lot of intensive development work is under way by Volvo Car Corporation's safety experts to deliver on the vision that no Volvo cars are to be involved in collisions in the future. By developing several new high-tech safety solutions, Volvo Car Corporation is taking a major step toward its 2020 goal that nobody should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.
"We are taking clear steps in the right direction. We have a number of research projects with the aim to develop technologies for future Volvo models," says Jan Ivarsson, Senior Manager Safety Strategy & Requirements at Volvo Car Corporation.
Many of the new technologies are tailored to the way drivers behave in the modern traffic environment. Today's drivers differ from yesterday's. For instance, surveys from three different research institutes in the USA reveal that modern drivers spend 25 to 30 percent of their time behind the wheel doing other things, such as focusing on mobile communication.
Drivers who make phone calls and who check their email and text messages are becoming increasingly common - and since these situations affect the driver's attention on the road, they have to be taken into account when developing new technologies.
"In the modern mobile society we bring our social lives with us wherever we go. The car is no exception. For us it's quite simply a matter of creating technology that provides the driver with the right support at all times," relates Jan Ivarsson.
Volvo Car Corporation's research focuses on three main areas:
Starting with the Autonomous Driving Support which makes sure the driver is staying safely in the current lane and follow the rhythm of the traffic if queues build up.
"This function has considerable scope for making the driver's life easier. Our first generation of advanced technology focuses on driving in queues at low speeds. The car follows the vehicle in front in the same lane. However, it is always the driver who decides. He or she can take control at any time," says Fredrik Lundholm.
Intersection Support meanwhile focuses on avoiding accidents at crossroads and junctions. Mattias Brännström, PhD Active Safety Functions exemplifies this by drawing a queue of cars turning left at an intersection. When the light turns green one car after another turns left. Suddenly an oncoming car drives through the red light - and creates an immediate danger. "In this situation, the turning car automatically brakes to avoid a collision. Intersection Support thus serves as a system that not only helps deal with the driver's own mistakes, but those of other road users too," explains Mattias Brännström.
He says Volvo Car Corporation's safety approach is about getting cars to behave like people. The sensors are the eyes, the computers are the brain and the brakes are the muscles.
And lastly Animal Detection to avoid collisions with wild animals. This feature greatly benefits the ones living in the countryside and in more remote areas where there are many serious collisions involving wild animals.