Volvo has announced a new step in its ambitious mission to end fatalities in its cars. This new initiative will help by addressing the issues of intoxication and distraction.
Apart from speeding, which Volvo aims to help combat with a top speed limit, intoxication and distraction are two other primary areas of concern for traffic safety.
Together, these areas are the main ‘gaps’ towards Volvo’s vision of a future with zero traffic fatalities, and require a focus on human behaviour in the company’s safety work as well.
For example, figures show that in the US, almost 30 per cent of all traffic fatalities in vehicles in 2017 involved intoxicated drivers.
Volvo will address intoxication and distraction by installing in-car cameras and other sensors that monitor the driver. Furthermore, the system will allow the car to intervene if a clearly intoxicated or distracted driver does not respond to warning signals or is posing a risk.
That intervention could involve limiting the car’s speed or alerting the Volvo On Call assistance service. As a final course of action, it could even slow down and safely park 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 that 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 amount of cameras and their positioning in the interior will follow at a later stage.