Volvo shows autonomous tech at MWC 2016
12:30 AM | March 29 2016

Volvo Cars at the world’s largest mobile tech show

Sascha Heiniger, Communication Manager Connected Cars at Volvo Cars, talks about how the company highlighted its leadership in connected car services and in semi-autonomous driving technology at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona.
Why did Volvo Cars attend Mobile World Congress (MWC)?

Shows such as MWC are the perfect platform to demonstrate our latest innovations. We are pioneers in connected car and autonomous driving (AD) technology and these events allow us to demonstrate how the car has become more than a simple means of transport, and how we can offer new services and mobility solutions. In fact, together with our technology partner Ericsson this was already the 5th time we attended MWC.

What were the key innovations on display at MWC?
The main innovation was our Phone as Key technology, which allows you to use a phone app as a digital key to access and share different Volvo cars in a very easy way.

We also presented the latest Sensus infotainment features, such as our new integrated Spotify app that lets you stream music in your Volvo without a smartphone.

We highlighted our advances in semi-autonomous driving with the latest generation of Pilot Assist, and we showed how customers will be able to enjoy streamed media in a Volvo capable of fully autonomous driving with Concept 26.

What is Phone as Key technology?

Phone as Key is a world-first solution that allows our customers to lock, unlock and start their Volvo with their smartphone using Bluetooth technology.

Customers can now access the car via a “digital key” running in the app. The interesting part is how this new technology can change the way we share cars. Volvo drivers will be able share their key with others, so it will be easy to give access to family, friends or colleagues. Or you could book a rental car anywhere in the world, receive its digital key and then simply locate the car, open it and drive away.

How does Phone as Key relate to autonomous driving technology?
We are moving towards a new era where technology such as the digital key and autonomous driving capability have the potential to transform the whole concept of mobility.

Of course we don’t really know how the future of driving will look like, but the ability to gain access to self-driving vehicles without a physical key could not only make access to mobility easier but also create new ownership models. So this technology could also become just another puzzle stone in the way future cities will be planned and urban space will be used.

How was this new technology concept received by the public?

Interest in our Phone as Key technology has been huge. It has been featured in leading media including CNBC, BBC, CNN, Mashable, The Verge, Engadget or Huffington Post, to mention just a few.

How does Concept 26 relate to mobile technology?

This year’s slogan at MWC was “Mobile is Everything” and Concept 26 is a vision of a new type of mobility. It shows how Volvo Cars is investigating the way that cars with autonomous driving capability will bring back freedom to car travel, allowing drivers to choose how every moment of their journey is spent. AD technology will offer a new way of being mobile, and of being entertained or productive in your car.

How was Concept 26 displayed at the event?
Alongside the Concept 26 prototype, which shows how the interior of a fully autonomous Volvo could be re-imagined, we showed a film about the way in which such a car could provide reliable connectivity and a new way of consuming media.

Depending on which route you choose in full AD mode a certain amount of autonomous driving time will be available to do something else than driving. This means that we will be able to offer you tailor-made media packages perfectly suited to your journey.

What else was on display?
We also showcased the latest version of Pilot Assist, our semi-autonomous feature that supports you while driving. Available in the new S90, V90 and 2017 model year XC90, the second-generation Pilot Assist now functions at speeds up to 130kmh, without the need to follow a car in front.

Our message was that we are already making the commute more enjoyable, with semi-autonomous support and great infotainment solutions today, and that in the future we will continue to be a leader by offering cars equipped for the best media experience in the car.

How important is cooperation with other tech companies such as Ericsson?

Cooperation with strong partners outside the traditional automotive world is very important for us. Not only can we learn from companies like Ericsson and their expertise with the networked society but by joining forces we can also create new services and thus new value for our customers.

What did MWC 2016 say about the future of cars?

In the past, your interaction with a car brand started when you opened the car door and stopped when you shut it. Today a car brand will become more and more part of your life.

The car is becoming part of the “Internet of Things” – a world where everything gets digitally connected. This offers great opportunities for a human-centric brand like us to innovate and create new offers and services making our customers lives easier, more convenient and fun.