Volvo is an ambitious car company and one of Scandinavia’s biggest exports. It generates billions for the local economy, producing some of the most desirable vehicles in the world.
During the middle of the last decade, though, the automotive firm did something that no other car company has ever done before. It set a target to eliminate all serious injuries in its vehicles by 2020.
Unfortunately, its “Vision 2020” didn’t succeed. Autonomous driving technology simply didn’t develop in the way it had hoped. However, as with most stretch goals, a lot of good came from the venture.
Now Volvo has taken all of that learning and embedded it into its newest premium all-electric SUV: the EX90. The company wants to provide drivers with a highly protective experience, preventing them from falling foul to the dangers on the road.
The sheer level of technology Volvo packs into its new vehicles is mind-blowing. The company has some of the most advanced features in the industry, taking care of everything from blindspots to pedestrians.
The Vehicle’s Safety Features
For example, if you buy the car, you’ll get something called the “driver understanding system.” This is essentially two interior sensors and a capacitative steering wheel that can detect whether you are drowsy and whether the vehicle needs to step in to keep you on the road. For example, if you nod off at the wheel, the car has technology that keeps it on the road and issues alerts, telling you to wake up and pull over. It’s a remarkable setup.
Another feature, called occupant sensing, takes a slightly different approach. Instead of focusing on helping you stay on the road, it alerts you if you inadvertently leave something behind behind in the vehicle, to prevent a dangerous scenario.
For example, let’s say you take your baby to the grocery store but forget you left them in the back seat. The EX90 will issue an audible alert and send another to your phone if you make this error. It can also do the same for children, dogs, and even valuable items left on the backseat in view of criminals.
Volvo also integrates the new EX90 with its intersection straight-crossing functionality. Automakers know that intersections are among the most dangerous road features. Many drivers plow through them without obeying stop signals, leading to T-bone-style accidents.
“We see a lot of this type of crash in our line of work,” says Demand the Limit, an attorney that deals with personal injury cases. “At-fault drivers will jump the lights and not bother looking either side to see if oncoming traffic is approaching. As such, accidents become significantly more likely because the victim believes they are safe.”
The Volvo EX90 solves this problem by using intelligent sensors to scan upcoming intersections. Computers can decide whether they believe an oncoming vehicle is going to jump the lights and automatically apply the emergency brakes on your behalf to prevent a collision.
The car accident lawyer believes the technology will save lives. “There’s no doubt that crossroad accidents are among the most common. Any device that can stop them from happening will have an appreciable impact on the number of people seriously injured on the roads.”
But the safety technology doesn’t end there. Volvo is also pioneering its “Safe Space” technology which uses a combination of ultrasonic sensors, lidar, radar, and cameras to ensure the EX90 avoids danger. The car company says all these systems continually scan the road, looking for danger in front of the car, allowing the vehicle to accurately identify other cars’ locations and distances with high precision. This information lets the vehicle get a better understanding of the environment and provides the driver with “support” when necessary.
The form this support takes can essentially be anything, which is what makes the car so advanced. It isn’t trying to pigeonhole its Safe Space technology at all or apply it in specific situations. Instead, the vehicle knows when various safety thresholds are bypassed and intervenes immediately.
In practice, this means that the car can brake if you approach traffic too rapidly from behind, take over if you swerve out of a lane, and even slow you down if you are approaching a corner or junction too rapidly. It combines with the Pilot Assist feature to make the driving experience smoother and more relaxing.
“The ability to detect possible accidents before they happen is game-changing,” Demand the Limit says. “The number of people who could avoid having to go into debt to pay medical bills or take time off work is enormous.”
What Demand the Limit is describing is essentially the human cost of accidents and something Volvo wants to avoid. Like makers of other products, it wants to reduce the risks that its consumers face, providing them with a safe cocoon that protects them from serious harm on the road. The vehicle can essentially take over and provide the driver with assistance, even if they are distracted for some reason, making accidents less likely.
Of course, not everyone on the road can afford such sophisticated technology. But the same was true of climate control in the past, which is now standard on all but the most entry-level vehicles.
So, Is Ending Crashes Possible?
It’s unlikely that Volvo’s technology as it stands will single-handedly end crashes. While it will allow drivers to avoid a host of situations, the possibility of a collision remains. Other drivers can always smash into the EX90 before it is able to take evasive action.
However, that’s not the end of the story. While crashes will still happen as long as human drivers are in control of vehicles, Volvo is also working on technology that mitigates impacts when they do happen. These include things like its ultra-reinforced frame, side airbags, and numerous crumple zones to protect vehicle occupants from all directions.
In short, eliminating crashes entirely probably isn’t possible without massive changes to the vehicle fleet as a whole. But these technological innovations will surely have a significant impact.
For more automotive related reads, click here.