Volvo says its next car will be the safest ever as it becomes the first to monitor drivers using cameras and sensors to detect if they are falling asleep, drunk or overly distracted while driving .
The EX90 electric SUV – due to be unveiled in a month – will have a suite of technologies including eight cameras, five radars, 16 ultrasonic sensors and a state-of-the-art ‘lidar’ system to create ‘a 360-degree invisible screen’. safety shield” which she says can reduce the number of serious road accidents by a fifth.
While these are designed to alert motorists to potential dangers around them, it will also have two interior cameras, a posture sensor and a touch-sensitive steering wheel to constantly monitor drivers to determine if they are sleepy, sick or looking at their phone. wheel.
And, if a motorist fails to respond to a series of alerts, they can take control of the vehicle and bring it to a stop if they think an accident might be imminent.
Do you keep your eyes on the road? Volvo’s new EX90 will be unveiled in November and will be the first car to feature dual interior cameras to monitor the driver at all times
Volvo prides itself on being at the forefront of vehicle safety and has been one of the brands pioneering new technologies to reduce the number of collisions involving its latest cars.
In recent years it has led the way with a number of safety features for the first time, including speed limiters on all its new vehicles produced from 2020 that limit drivers to speeds of no more than 112 mph .
The Swedish company is also the first to offer customers a separate key they can give to their newly qualified children and other family members which, when used to start the car, has a preset speed limit. by owners, which can restrict users to driving at a top speed as slow as 31 mph.
Yet the next model to add to its lineup is set to take it to the next level and become its safest car to date by incorporating a host of technologies, including – for the first time ever – interior cameras to constantly monitor the driver. .
Volvo says it’s the most advanced version of its ‘Driver Understanding System’, which it has been developing extensively over the past three years.
Two cameras inside the cabin will continuously measure the user’s “gaze concentration” and a sensor also monitors the driver’s posture.
One of the cameras is integrated under the digital driver’s instrument panel behind the steering wheel and the other is placed higher up in the speaker housing.
Indoor detection is one of the next security frontiers for us
Thomas Broberg, Volvo Cars Safety Center Manager
This “maximizes accuracy from different angles” so the system can determine if there might be a problem and “provide the right driver assistance at the right time”, the Swedish firm tells us.
The cameras calculate how long the user looks at the road ahead, then decide if their attention is focused on anything other than driving.
Volvo points out that there is no output video data from these cameras and they do not record driver footage and only measure the direction of gaze and the position of the driver’s head.
An algorithm developed by Volvo then uses this information to detect the current state of the user and will be able to determine if the driver is too distracted, tired, drunk or sick.
The cameras and sensor will also be able to understand if a motorist is using their mobile phone or other device while driving, whose tougher new laws introduced on March 25 now face a £200 fine and six points if drivers are caught in the law.
The steering wheel also has built-in sensors to understand if the driver has loosened their grip due to falling asleep or a health issue.
“Our research shows that by simply observing where the driver is looking and how often and for how long their eyes are closed, we can tell a lot about the state of the driver,” says Emma Tivesten, senior technical expert at the brand. Security Center.
“Basing its calculations on the results of our research, the sensing system allows our cars to identify if the driver’s ability is impaired, perhaps due to drowsiness, distraction or other causes of inattention and to offer further assistance in a manner best suited to the situation.’
Thomas Broberg, who heads Volvo’s Safety Center, says interior detection is “one of the next frontiers of safety” in the automotive sector.
The auto giant says the technology will continue to improve over time as it learns about driver behavior.
Any changes to the system will be available via over-the-air software updates that can be downloaded to vehicles owned by existing customers.
What happens if the system detects that a driver is asleep or sick?
If the cameras, sensor and capacitive steering wheel detect anything out of the ordinary, it will attempt to alert the driver with a series of warnings.
The first will be a beep sound, followed by a “gentle nudge”, which will be a vibration sent through the steering wheel and seat.
However, if the motorist does not react to these, either because he has fallen asleep or is ill, the EX90 will be able to come to a safe stop, automatically activate the hazard warning lights to alert other motorists, then call for help.
Volvo says this technology will help it make significant progress towards its future goal of zero accidents involving its cars in the future.
The new EX90 will have a suite of technologies including eight cameras, five radars, 16 ultrasonic sensors and a state-of-the-art ‘lidar’ system
A security suite of 30 cameras, sensors, radars and lidar
As well as monitoring driver status, the next EX90 will also feature more road-analyzing safety technology than any Volvo to date.
Its array of sensors, cameras, radars and a new lidar system – which uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to detect things ahead – work in unison to give a “real-time view of the world” around the zero emissions SUV.
“It’s a car designed to understand you and its surroundings to help protect you, your loved ones and others in traffic. It can also get smarter and safer over time as it learns from new data and receives updates,” the company tells us.
The lidar function – its most advanced to date – will even be able to spot objects, animals and people on the road from hundreds of meters away, day or night.
Volvo says it can detect pedestrians up to 250 meters away and something as small and dark as a tire on a black road 120 meters ahead, even when the car is traveling at highway speeds.
He claims the suite of features will reduce crashes resulting in serious injury or death by up to 20%.
He also expects the technology to improve ‘overall crash avoidance’ by up to 9%, which could prevent ‘millions of crashes over time’ in what he calls a ‘big step. forward for security and for humanity”.
Volvo is the first brand to fit all its cars with speed limiters and also sells this optional ‘service key’ which sets an owner-specified maximum speed when family members or friends borrow the vehicle.
“The development of our latest safety technology is based on an understanding of human behavior, rooted in decades of safety research by ourselves and others,” says Volvo.
“Each of us is likely to experience or be affected by at least one car accident in our lifetime.
“That’s not a judgement: we know that most of the time you are an excellent driver, alert and ready to act when needed.” But we are all human, and that also means experiencing emotions.
“We know distraction and fatigue are part of life and travel with us. We know that you may not always be at your best, for whatever reason. And in traffic, it only takes seconds for the unthinkable to happen.
“So our goal is to help you become a better driver and reduce the risk of an accident.
“The Volvo EX90 comes with an invisible safety shield that includes our latest sensing technology, allowing the car to understand your state of mind and the world around you.”
The EX90 will be unveiled on November 9.
Volvo has a long-term goal that there will be no more accidents involving its cars in the future
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