Fewer accidents mean fewer injuries.
A safety system that’s more than the sum of its parts.
Working towards a safer world.
A history of our safety innovations.
CIRCLE OF LIFE
Discover the lifecycle of our safety philosophy.
Being safe is about preventing accidents – not just projection.
Discover the concept car that spawned 15 safety innovations.
THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
Underpinning all Volvo’s crash-test research is a safety philosophy that our engineers call the “circle of life”.
1 - Real-life accidents
Volvo is one of the few car manufacturers with its own accident research team. Since 1970, the team has studied over 40,000 accidents involving a Volvo. Knowledge saves lives.
2 - Safety requirements
Volvo has always been a leader in safety, and all modern Volvos meet or exceed current statutory requirements set by governments for car manufacturers.
3 - Product developments
This is when components, systems and complete cars are developed. Extensive computer simulation testing is used by safety engineers and safety experts. Any Volvo car has usually been crash tested and studied in the computer thousands of times during development.
4 – Testing
One of the most crucial model development stages, and why Volvo invested so heavily in our state-of-the-art Safety Centre, is where we reconstruct and simulate real-life accidents in the laboratory.
5 – Production
Once testing is over, new models and safety innovations go into production and find their place in real-world road situations. Then, the whole cycle begins again.
Our preventative safety systems
At Volvo we take a holistic approach, so safety isn't just about safety cages or crumple zones, it’s about how best to protect people in real-life situations. That’s why we design innovative pro-active safety systems to help prevent accidents from happening in the first place. All to keep you safer.
City Safety collision avoidance technology is a Volvo world first standard feature for safer urban driving. At speeds up to 30 km/h, this laser-based technology monitors the traffic ahead, and it senses an impending collision, automatically applies the brakes and switches off the throttle the brakes if you don’t brake to help mitigate the effects of a collision.
Driver Alert Control
Driver Alert Control helps alert tired or distracted drivers at speeds over 65 km/h. Using signals from a digital camera it monitors the road ahead along with steering wheel movements and compares erratic behaviour to your normal driving style. If your driving behaviour shows signs of drowsiness or distraction, you receive an audible warning and a message displayed on the instrument panel.
Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake
At speeds up to 35 km/h Volvo's innovative Pedestrian Detection system can detect if anyone unexpectedly steps out in front of your car. It first alerts you with a flashing red warning light on the windscreen and an audible alarm, and if you fail to brake in time, it applies the full force of the brakes automatically.
The Safety Concept Car
More than 15 safety innovations found in today's Volvos were first proposed over a decade ago with our Safety Concept Car. Along with its cutting-edge technology, it also foreshadowed the design of the Volvo C30. Built to reduce injuries to a minimum and improve driver visibility, it featured transparent window pillars, infra-red night vision and automatic adjustment of seats, controls and pedals for optimum driver positioning.
CRASH TEST WITHOUT SAFETY FUNCTIONS
PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS OCCUR EVERY DAY IN OUR INCREASINGLY INTENSIVE TRAFFIC ENVIROMENT.
IN EUROPE, 14% OF ALL FATALITIES ARE PEDESTRIAN.
PEDESTRIAN DETECTION WITH FULL AUTO BRAKE BY VOLVO CAR CORPORATION
Volvo Cars has a very clear aim with its new safety vision.
In the long term it is quite simply a question of building and designing cars that should not crash.
In the shorter term by 2020 the aim is that nobody will die or be injured in a Volvo.
But is this really a realistic vision?
If you looked at safety from a global perspective, there are more than 1.2 million people being killed each year in traffic.
And if you take Europe as an example, it is around 40,000 people being killed, the same as in the US.
And if you looked at these numbers, that is only the fatalities. If you look at all the injuries that also occur - that’s millions.
So, safety is not a problem, road traffic safety is not a problem, to me it is an epidemic.
We need to address it and I think we need to address it with that approach.
Because - why should it be allowed?
In order to achieve a crash free future, of course requires that car manufacturers, authorities, infrastructure planners,
and other experts around the world collaborate with each other.
Volvo’s researchers feel that the vision is perfectly realistic if the collective knowledge is utilised in the right way.
All this is based on knowledge - we need to gain new knowledge and we are using the knowledge that we already built.
We have a traffic accident research team that has been working for decades.
Not only to understand what type of collisions are out on the field and what injuries you see, but also what caused those collisions.
And as we move towards the future we try to understand the drivers and the driver behaviour even better.
Not only studying collisions but also studying normal driving.
To better be able to understand how we can assist drivers to avoid getting into critical situations in the first place.
And the knowledge acquired by studying real traffic accidents in detail is extraordinary important for the researchers.
I used data very much to understand what priorities there are, what areas to improve with respect safety.
I also used the data to understand the mechanisms behind different types of accidents or injuries.
Take, for instance, the whiplash protection study we did 10 or 15 years ago.
We have used the accident data to understand the mechanisms and understand on how we can improve the cars.
Tomorrow’s cars will have a completely new technology that helps drivers to avoid collisions.
In Volvo’s new XC60 model, for example, City Safety is standard.
This is a unique collisions avoidance technique that with a laser sensor based technology helps avoid or mitigate low speed crashes.
I think City Safety is a good example because here we are taking a step in actually having an offer of collision avoidance and we are making it standard.
This new technology has already received a tremendous amount of attention all over the world.
At the British motor insurance repair research center in Thatcham,
where they carry out research and development to promote and encourage the building of safer cars,
they are most impressed.
Thatcham is very excited about the new Volvo City Safety system.
See - 80% of accidents occur at speeds of up to 20mph.
And 90% of injuries, the majority of which are whiplash, occur in these sorts of situations.
City Safety is designed to directly address these issues. And therefore we think it has huge potential at reducing real world injuries and material damage.
Volvo Cars takes a long term view of its safety operations,
but even in a shorter time as 10 years, it is estimated that we all have a considerably better and safer traffic environment then we have today.
In 10 years we will have much better knowledge in understanding human behaviour and how we work up here
when we are out in traffic and out driving.
We are currently starting to address issues that we know are a major cause of collisions and injuries.
In the field unconcentrated drivers, distracted drivers, alcohol, are an aspect that we are considering with an alcohol gauge system already today.
We are taking it piece by piece.
And as we gain knowledge from studying real drivers in real traffic environments,
we will have more innovative technologies to assist them to be safe and progress in hopefully avoiding collisions.
We are at the beginning of a collision avoidance revolution.
For a long time now vehicle safety engineers have looked at secondary safety.
They have looked at the ability of a vehicle to sustain the forces of an impact and protect the driver with airbags and seatbelts.
This new technology is going one stage further. Because this new technology is preventing the accident occurring in the first place.
And prevention is better than cure.
And at Volvo they are now working resolutely to realize their vision of building cars that cannot crash.
Quite simply they refuse to accept people dying in motor accidents.
The number one key is as always is knowledge. Safety is all about knowledge.
Knowledge from real traffic accidents, knowledge about people, about how we work that is the key here.
I think in order to address and find new innovative technologies to address different aspects of what can occur in real traffic environments.
Because it can be very complex.
Meet the virtual crash test dummy that thinks it’s pregnant.
Even our crash-test dummies are smarter than average.
Discover why we gave away one of our safest inventions.
Preventing injuries from batteries is also our business.
To Volvo, an unborn child is already a passenger. Which is why at our Safety Research Centre in Gothenburg we created Linda; a virtual pregnant crash test dummy. Data collected helps make our cars safer for pregnant women and their own precious cargo.
We use a variety of adult and child sized dummies, each matching the weight, size and proportions of their human counterparts. Add sophisticated electronics measuring deceleration, displacement and other forces involved in an accident, and it equals one smart dummy.
3 Point Safety Belt
Once, seatbelts were simple lap-belts that were only effective to a degree. But in 1959, Volvo safety engineer Nils Bohlin invented the three-point seatbelt, which is still used in cars today. And to ensure it was adopted by everyone - not just Volvo drivers - we deliberately didn’t patent it either.
Electric Car Safety
Volvo Cars conducts extensive analysis of a variety of safety scenarios for cars with electric power. Through advanced automatic monitoring of battery status and by encapsulating the battery and protecting it effectively in a collision, the result is a comprehensive safety package of the very highest class.
C30 ELECTRIC CRASH TEST
It’s -18 degrees Celsius just outside the Swedish mining town Kiruna, north of the Arctic circle.
In this environment Volvo Cars winter tests their cars and it is here the Volvo C30 Electric has to show its true colours.
Extreme cold can be a particular challenge for electric cars.
Annelie Gustavsson Product Manager Volvo Cars
The winter is affecting the electric car in such a way,
that we have to adjust the temperature for the compartment where the driver is sitting
and also for the battery so that they can deliver the power that is requested.
But there are technical solutions that maintain heat for both batteries and passengers inside the car in conditions like these.
When it is cold, an Ethanol powered fuel heater to maintain a warm temperature.
Annelie Gustavsson Product Manager Volvo Cars
We have managed this in this C30 Electric by using three different climate systems,
which cooperate and distribute heat where it is needed and optimized to the driving conditions.
How far can you drive when it is -10 degrees Celsius?
Annelie Gustavson Product Manager Volvo Cars
In -10 I would say you can drive 80 to 90 km and of course it depends on how you drive.
Volvo Cars are in the middle of their final winter test for electric cars.
Andreas Olsson Test Engineer Volvo Cars
We do it like a normal customer - start the car and take away.
The expectation of the car is just like any day of the year.
It copes very well with the driver and we have driven it down in -33 degrees Celsius outside, inside the coupe it’s warm and cosy.
What do the journalists who have test driven the electric car on site in this Arctic winter think?
Thomas Berggren Journalist Auto Motor & Sport.
Erik Gustafsson Journalist Teknikens Varlid.
It differs very little from driving a petrol or a diesel driven car.
I would say it is so little difference you won’t even notice it if it is an automatic gearbox in the car.
It was warm as a normal car - just put on the AC and then it was just fine.
We took the car - it was -18 degrees Celsius in the air, we had three minutes and we had acceptable heat in the car. Which I thought was very good.
Well, it seems that the Volvo C30 Electric has no problem coping with the cold.
The car’s unique climate control system has sufficient capacity to warm up the batteries
and still ensure that it is more than acceptably warm inside the car.
It’s possible to drive up to 70 to 80 km even if it is extremely cold, -33 degrees for example.
Volvo Cars has a strong believe in the future of the electric car that can in fact provide up to 90% of personal transport by car.
When accidents happen we’re there to learn why.
Discover how crashing cars can actually save lives.
THE VOLVO SAVED
MY LIFE CLUB
Meet people who owe their lives to their Volvos.
Traffic Accident Research
Volvo was the first car manufacturer to create its own Traffic Accident Research Unit. Since its launch in 1970, the Unit has analysed over 40,000 accidents and used that research to develop innovative solutions like our Whiplash Protection System that has proven to reduce long-term whiplash injuries by more than 50%.
Volvo Cars Safety Centre
Knowledge saves lives. Opened in 2000, Volvo’s unique crash-test safety laboratory enables us to recreate the many different accident types on the road, such as car-to-car, car-to-truck and car-to-bus in different speeds and crash angles. A huge technological investment to help save lives.
The Volvo Saved My Life Club
Our commitment to reducing accidents isn’t driven by statistics. It’s about mothers. Fathers. Children and grandchildren. Anyone who uses a car. The Volvo Saved My Life Club is the human face of all our technology, engineering and every evening we spent working late.
And every one of these stories makes it all worthwhile.
The Bowles Family
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
“I was turning left into the local community center to play volleyball. I had my entire family in the car.”
The Klein Family
Mission Viejo, California
“We impacted, the front of the cars hit, it spun us around, the back of our cars hit…we went down a hill through trees and shrubs and bushes.”
Queens Creek, Arizona
“I swerved into oncoming traffic, and hit a semi...My car spun around, and I saw in front of me the truck, trailer, rolling over the street.”
MORE TRUE LIFE STORIES
This advanced facility has two test tracks: One permanent and one moveable.
The moveable track can be turned by as much as 90 degrees.
The unique design of these tracks makes it possible to crash-test cars of different sizes,
at different speeds, from different angles and in different traffic environments
- a major advance for safety research and one which is unique to Volvo.
Laser technology ensures that the tests are conducted in exactly the right position
and at exactly the right speed.
The events are documented by senses and high-speed cameras.
Volvo´s high-tech crash barrier weighs 800 tonnes and is moved into place by air cushions.
This barrier makes it possible to recreate many different accident situations
and thereby develop even more effective protection.
Nearly 3000 crashes have been carried out here at Volvo’s high tech crash test laboratory in Gothenburg, that this year celebrates its ten year anniversary.
It’s in here that Volvo cars safety experts and researchers acquire the knowledge that is essential to develop traffic safety and make tomorrow’s cars even safer.
It’s estimated that 1.2 million people are killed in road traffic accidents each year.
And looking at it from that perspective you can say that, well, road traffic safety is not really a problem, it’s much, much more than that. It’s an epidemic.
So of course we need to address that and knowledge is really the key here and that’s what this centre is all about:
Building knowledge to try to prevent this in de future.
And it’s a matter of fact that Volvo Cars safety centre here in Gothenburg is unique in many ways.
This place is where the car to cat impact takes place.
We have one moving car travelling in that track and another car which can’t ravel from this tunnel. And this tunnel can be moved in direction all the way back here.
Because in the real world any crash can occur. So you can have an impact in any angle.
And this facility makes it possible to reconstruct all these different impact angles and different impact speeds. And even track the car impacts.
We’re actually standing on a glass floor. Beneath us we have cameras.
We also have cameras above us.
And on all the sides of the cars when impacted. As well as inside the cars.
Everything needs to be documented. Otherwise you can’t save it.
Thomas Broberg – Senior Technical Advisor
This is the tunnel that is used to conduct both car to car crashes as well as to crash cars on the outside of the building.
So the tunnel here is actually moveable on aircushions. It weighs 650 tons and
It’s moveable so we can get any angle on it into the centre here from 0 to 90 degrees.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1
The track here is reversible, so we can shoot cars both into the building and we can shoot cars out of the building so behind me here you see the gate.
And on the outside there we can actually built different traffic scenarios from real life.
I would say it is so little difference you won’t even notice it if it is an automatic gearbox in the car.
All crashes here in the lab are filmed with a special high speed cameras.
We need all these high speed cameras in order to catch the whole crash event from all the different angles.
Because a crash is over is less than a tenth of a second.
That’s a shorter time than you can blink so we need to have it all on film in order to do a proper analysis afterwards.
The mayor advantage of this installation is that it is possible to complete the realistic crashes from in principle any angle and at any speed.
Which provides valuable knowledge and competence.
First of all it gives us a unique flexibility in the sense that we can do not only car to car crashes but also car to truck crashes.
This track alone has a capacity of pushing a car, a 3 ton car, in 90 km an hour.
And we can do car to car crashes in different angles and different speeds with different offsets
as well as having the capacity of actually building real world traffic environments on the outside where we can crash cars into them.
And there are plenty of good examples to show that this research has resulted in safer cars.
Well one example is the fact that when impacting within the oblique angles x
You have special challenges in respect to airbag deployments, airbag coverage areas and things like that you can’t see when you don’t do those sort of crashes.
The crash test dummies that are used are also extremely important in this research.
In the future I think we will see even more flexible dummies. That is that it can be used in multiple events when the car crashes twice maybe.
In more slow events, run off-roads events.
Outside of Sweden Volvo Cars’ crash test laboratory has an extremely good reputation and is still classed as one of the best in the world.
Traffic safety researcher Professor Adrian Hobbs at EORN cab is of the opinion that Volvo produces invaluable knowledge here.
If you want to understand about safety the first thing you have to do is you have to investigate road accidents.
Volvo has their own team that investigates accidents, they’ve got that information.
Then with their test facility they can reproduce the big problems, they can understand about them, they can develop solutions and then they can test them.
You need to have the facilities in order to test the cars and test the components.
Volvo has got an excellent facility to do that.
This is our main test track so we can take the car and go into the barrier or we can take the car and go into the other car coming from the other test track
Or we can reverse this test track and take the car outdoors and do roll over testing.
This crash test barrier weighs 850 tons and is movable on air cushions and we use it to crash cars into it.
And it’s a very flexible system. On each end of the barrier here we can actually attach different types of impact barriers, like full rigid barriers like we have here,
Or we can have a deformable front end of another car. We can have poles and we can turn it around and we can also move the barrier out of the way
when we do the car to car crashes or car to truck crashes.
The fact that you can re-construct any crash situation occurring in the real world you can learn more,
and get new crash test to address and that way the research as well as the product development has evolved over the years.
For Volvo Cars traffic safety has always been one if it’s most important core values. And it has no plan to change this strategy in any way.
This is an operation that goes through continual development.
And even if today’s cars are considerably safer than they were only a few years ago,
there is always something that can be improved that will make both the car and traffic safer.
Another future scenario that we will use this test facility to, which we already do, is to test the mitigation prior to a crash
Breaking, pre-breaking the car maybe or making multiple scenarios where we have an active safety part as well as the passive safety
Combination of those safety aspects is the future.
Well if we look at the past ten years we’ve been taking humble steps every day in building our knowledge and
increasing the performance of our safety systems in our cars
And that will continue over the coming ten years. I will think that we will see some breakthrough technologies
being put to the market both when it comes to how we can protect when a crash occurs,
but more importantly we can prevent crashes from occurring in the first place.
So hopefully in a few decades even further this centre will be obsolete.
OUR SAFETY FIRST
A history of our safety innovations
Passenger compartment steel safety cage.
Laminated windshields standard 15 years before mandatory (in USA).
World’s first 3-point front lap/shoulder seat belts as standard.
Padded instrument panel
World’s first rear-facing child seat.
Crumple zones front & rear.
Rear outboard 3-point lap/shoulder seat belts standard.
Front seat head restraints
Front seat inertia reel safety belts.
Accident Research Team.
Seat belt reminder standard.
Childproof locks on rear doors.
Rear outboard seat inertia reel safety belts.
Collapsible steering column.
Isolated fuel tank protected from rear collisions.
World’s first child safety booster cushion.
Wide-angle rear view mirror.
Front and rear anti-submarining protection.
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS).
High-mounted brake lights in rear window.
World’s first rear centre 3-point lap/shoulder seat belts.
Integrated child safety booster cushion in rear centre seat.
World’s first Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) - 5 years before mandatory.
Automatic front height adjusting seat belts.
3-point lap/shoulder seat belts standard equipment in all seats.
World’s first side impact airbags introduced in new models.
Roll Over Protection System (ROPS).
World’s first Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS).
World’s first full length inflatable curtain (IC).
ISOFIX child seat mounting system.
Dual-stage frontal airbags.
Volvo Safety Center opened.
Volvo Safety Concept Car (SCC).
Rollover Stability Control (RSC) in Volvo XC90 using gyro sensor and DSTC.
Rollover Protection System (ROPS), including long duration Inflatable Curtain (IC) in all seat rows, seat belt pretensioners, and reinforced roof structure.
Linda the virtual pregnant crash test dummy.
World’s first new patented front structure.
Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS).
Rear safety belt warning.
Traffic Research Team Bangkok.
World’s first Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) in passenger cars.
Water repellent glass.
World’s first door mounted inflatable curtain (DMIC) in new C70.
Collision Warning with Brake support.
World’s first integrated two-stage booster cushion with extended IC (Inflatable Curtain) and force limiter adapted for children.
New, stronger side structure using different grades of high-strength steel.
Driver Alert System, including Driver Alert Control and Lane Departure Warning.
Collision Warning with Auto Brake.
World’s first City Safety system for avoiding low-speed collisions standard in XC60.
Vision 2020: By 2020 no-one should be killed or injured in a Volvo car.
New range of seat restraints for infants and children up to 12 years.
World’s first Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake launched in S60 and V60.