Volvo Safety Concept
9:00 PM | July 19 2021

Model Retrospective: 2001 Volvo Safety Concept Car

Twenty years ago, a Volvo concept car previewed a wide range of pioneering driving assistance systems that are now widely used today.
This is the car that moved the focus beyond passive safety such as airbags and onto active safety systems that could assist the driver.
 
Central to the development of the 2001 Safety Concept Car (SCC) was the ability of the driver to remain fully aware of all that is happening around the car – either through their own eyes or the ‘eyes’ of the vehicle.
 
The SCC demonstrated the potential of new vehicle sensors and smaller yet more powerful computers to preview a multitude of pioneering driver aids – many of which are common features in cars today.
 
It started with ensuring the driver had perfect vision and visibility regardless of height.
 
When they got into the driver’s seat, a sensor identified the location of their eyes. The seat then automatically adjusted to suit the position of the eyes so that the driver obtained the best possible field of vision. Then the floor, pedals, steering wheel and centre console – including the gear lever – all move to ensure all controls were within convenient reach.
 
The driver thus enjoyed the best overview of what was happening both outside the car and on the instrument panel.

Volvo Safety Concept
All-round visibility was further aided by the SCC’s distinctive windscreen and centre pillars. To help forward vision, the metal windscreen pillars featured a series of see-through Plexiglass triangles. To offer an unobstructed field of vision to the offset rear, the pillars between the front and rear doors curved inwards following the contours of the seat frame.
 
The SCC, which was designed at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center in California, had additional measures to eliminate a driver’s blind spots.
 
A sensor located in the outer rear-view mirrors could detect an approaching vehicle and alert the driver to vehicles approaching in the offset rear zone.
 
Rearward-facing cameras integrated into the door mirrors could also show the driver what was in the blind spot.
 
There was plenty of additional technology: The headlight beams adapted to the road and the speed – by directing the beam in the direction that the driver was turning at a crossroads or on a corner, for example; an infrared light enhancer boosted night-time vision beyond the reach of the headlights; and a forward-facing camera monitored the position of the car on the road and alerted the driver if there was any tendency to veer off course.
 
Inside, the SCC featured two different types of four-point safety belt: the X4 CrissCross Belt (main image) and the V4 Centre Buckle belt. The X4 is based on a conventional three-point belt that is supplemented with an additional diagonal chest belt. The V4 Centre Buckle Belt is a new four-point safety harness that has a centrally positioned buckle and shoulder straps that form a "V" across the chest.
 
The rear seat also had two adjustable seat cushions where the height could be steplessly altered to give children the most comfortable and the safest seating position, irrespective of their height. Integrated child booster seats have featured in several Volvo models, including some still sold today such as the XC60 SUV.
 
The SCC also featured keyless entry and start.
 
About 15 of the SCC’s advanced technological features transferred to some or all the company’s future models. They included:

Volvo Safety Concept
Active Bending Lights
Headlights that could follow the curvature of the road as the car turns.
 
Blind Spot Information System
Side-mirror sensors and rearward-facing cameras that could monitor for approaching traffic in adjacent lanes.
 
Lane Departure Warning and Driver Alert
A forward-facing camera that could monitor the vehicle’s position on the road and alert the driver if there was potential to veer off course.
 
Head-up Display
Windscreen-projected information.
 
Adaptive Cruise Control
A cruise control system that could maintain a set distance to the vehicle ahead.
 
And beyond the impressive tech, the SCC was also a styling showcase – previewing an upcoming new Volvo hatchback that would be called the C30.