Volvo Cars targets better driving behaviour
Volvo Cars will install in-car cameras and driver-monitoring sensors to allow its vehicles to intervene if a clearly intoxicated or distracted driver does not respond to warning signals and is risking an accident involving serious injury or death.
This new step forms a key part of the company’s ambition to end fatalities in its cars by addressing the issues of intoxication and distraction.
They account for two of the three main ‘gaps’ towards Volvo Cars’ vision of a future with zero traffic fatalities and require a focus on human behaviour in the company’s safety work as well. Volvo Cars aims to combat the third area, speeding, with a top-speed limit. (Read our separate article.)
Such a vehicle intervention could involve limiting the car’s speed, alerting the Volvo on Call assistance service (coming to Australia in the near future), and, as a final course of action, actively slowing down and safely parking the car.
“When it comes to safety, our aim is to avoid accidents altogether rather than limit the impact when an accident is imminent and unavoidable,” says Henrik Green, senior vice president, research & development at Volvo Cars. “In this case, cameras will monitor for behaviour that may lead to serious injury or death.”
Examples of such behaviour include a complete lack of steering input for extended periods of time, drivers who are detected to have their eyes closed or off the road for extended periods of time, as well as extreme weaving across lanes or excessively slow reaction times.
A driver-monitoring system as described above is an important element of allowing the car to actively make decisions in order to help avoid accidents that could result in severe injuries or death.
“There are many accidents that occur as a result of intoxicated drivers,” says Trent Victor, professor of driver behaviour at Volvo Cars. “Some people still believe they can drive after having had a drink, and that this will not affect their capabilities. We want to ensure that people are not put in danger as a result of intoxication.”
Introduction of the cameras on all Volvo models will start on the next generation of Volvo’s scalable SPA2 vehicle platform in the early 2020s. Details on the exact number of cameras and their positioning in the interior will follow at a later stage.
The company wants to start a conversation about whether car makers have the right or maybe even the obligation to install technology in cars that changes their drivers’ behaviour.
The installation of in-car cameras illustrates how car makers can take active responsibility for the aim of achieving zero traffic fatalities by supporting better driver behaviour.