From Autonomous parking to pedestrian and animal detection and car2car communication, Volvo’s innovation team are set to change the future of driving with their proposed new safety and support features.
We were invited to the Volvo headquarters in Gothenburg Sweden this weekend to get a glimpse of what Volvo have been quietly working on which could change the roads as we know them today. Here are some of the main groundbreaking features…
Arguably the coolest feature to come out of this weekends trip to Gothenburg was Volvo’s Autonomous Parking technology. Imagine pulling up to your destination, and sending your car to find a parking space and park itself at a simple click of a button! And then another click of a button for the car to pick you up when you are ready! Simply awesome!
Pedestrian Detection In Darkness
In the United States road users are 3-4
times more likely having an accident in the dark. The unusual scene is an old
cold war bunker in Gothenburg, where Carhoots test-drives a new technology from
car manufacturer Volvo. As we drive at a speed of 20 km and hour, a flashing
red warning light comes up and a calm, collected Swedish engineer tells us
succinctly to not give in to the urge of slamming our foot on the break. Out of nowhere
appears a rather smartly dressed mannequin boy and the auto break kicks in from
Volvo’s pedestrian technology. In this case the faceless mannequin got away
without a scratch, however if this was a real world situation we definitely
wouldn’t have avoided hitting the boy in time.
The cars are installed with radar technology
to detect a person walking in the road. Volvo has set out to solve a very bold
problem of cutting down the number of road accidents through assisted driving automation.
With bold claims of reducing road fatalities to zero by 2020 through its
innovations, the ‘What If’ questions were raised on the day. If our computer
sometimes needs a reboot while our safety relies on the technology, what would
the effects be?
Manufacturers such as Volvo will have an important job in educating buyers of
the benefits of assisted automation. A rapid shift in how driver’s behavioral
habits formed over years of driving will be key to Volvo’s success in tackling
challenging issues in road safety.
Torben Eckardt, Volvo spokesman assures us that
they’re not looking to take away the drivers ability to take control. He candidly
states that drivers are historically prone to distraction and that technology
simply assists in the control of when human error takes place and accidents
happen. Part of us thinks this is the beginning, as it will take time to adopt
the technology. As much as we want an automated driving car, not everyone is
ready for this, and keeping the steering wheel and the ability to drive is a
sign Volvo aren’t trying to get too ahead of themselves before the market is.
The car ambitions aren’t just limited to
saving people, there is a very real world problem with large animals, in
particular Moose’s in native country Sweden. Over 70% of cars travelling
100km/hr that hit a large animal result in a fatality due to the top-heavy
animal and bottom heavy car. The test drive we took identified the dummy moose
at 75km alerting us on the dashboard and automatically slowing down the car on
the production model.
Some of the concerns drivers have such as not
having control of the wheel, or the tech malfunctioning are valid questions
that Volvo say are bound to come up against when introducing a new technology. Scenarios
such as a morning commute where you twiddle your thumbs sat in traffic instead
of being productive is nobodies idea of fun.
Car 2 Car Communication
In slow speeds Car 2 Car
communication uses the cars radar to judge how far in front the car is and
adjust your speed, break when needed, and even auto steer. In fast speeds the
feature uses lane markings to stay in lane. As all the options are available to
turn on or off, you can have the car drive for you and control the steering
yourself or go full on auto and do nothing, kick back and let the car do the
hard work. The cars talk to each other in a way that humans can’t, such as if
there is a puddle coming up and the car in front steers away, your car detects
this and does the same. Car 2 Car also picks up what you can’t see behind you
such as Emergency services vehicles and gives you more time to pull over out of
the way quicker.
Overall, Volvo certainly built the up
anticipation of their future releases, and we are certainly looking forward to test-driving
one of their new safety technology cars.
If you’re in the market for a new car, you should definitely reconsider the old
stereotype of a Volvo being a family car. With Tesla, Mercedes and BMW all
competing for the wow factor through innovation, Volvo has something bubbling
in Sweden that might change the way we drive (or don’t drive) for years to
Let us know what you guys think of driverless car technology by tweeting us @carhootsapp Would you really like your car to drive itself?