Imagine never having to look for your car keys, ever.
Volvo Cars is working on technology that will make physical car keys a thing of the past.
In a pioneering effort, Volvo plans to debut this an application for mobile devices in 2017 that will issue digital keys to Volvo vehicle owners.
Using Bluetooth-enable digital key technology, Volvo is opening up a whole new way of using vehicles whether for personal use or as a part of a fleet or auto-sharing enterprise.
Volvo’s digital key aims to do more than what physical keys are able to do. Aside from opening/locking doors and starting up the engine, this technology makes sharing keys between family members possible.
The owner has the option of sending a digital key to his wife so she can pick up the vehicle without having to physically get the key from him inside the office.
An owner of multiple Volvos will also have the convenience of having several digital keys at his/her disposal to share with whomever they choose.
Recipients of digital keys may not even need to be in the same area as the sender.
In the case of a rental car business, one may book for a Volvo and receive their digital key on their mobile device before arriving at their destination country.
Upon arrival, all the customer needs to do is to locate the rental car via GPS and use the digital key to open and start the vehicle.
No need to cue up at auto rental desks at the airport.
"At Volvo we are not interested in technology for the sake of technology. New technology has to make our customers' lives easier and save them time. Mobility needs are evolving and so are our customers' expectation to access cars in an uncomplicated way. Our innovative digital key technology has the potential to completely change how a Volvo can be accessed and shared. Instead of sitting idle in a parking lot the entire day, cars could be used more often and efficiently by whoever the owner wishes," said Henrik Green, Vice President Product Strategy & Vehicle Line Management at Volvo Cars.
Volvo will test run this technology sometime this year using auto-sharing firm Sunfleet in Sweden. By 2017, a limited number of commercially available vehicles will be equipped with this new digital key technology.
"There are obviously many permutations when it comes to how this shared key technology can be used. We look forward to seeing how else this technology might be used in the future and we welcome any and all ideas," said Martin Rosenqvist, New Car Director, Special Products at Volvo Cars.
Physical keys will still be offered but only by request.