Volvo gets tough on

danger drivers

Volvo Accident Research Team - Anna Claesson and Hakan Gustafson
Volvo, car interior
Volvo Car Key, 2019

VOLVO is planning on installing cameras and other monitoring devices in its cars to make it impossible for a drunk driver to get behind the wheel.

The Swedish car maker announced the plans as part of its vision for zero traffic fatalities.

It has already said that from 2021 it will be limiting the top speed on all of its vehicles to 112mph.

Now it is turning its attention to intoxication and driver distraction and intends to fit in-car cameras and other sensors which will allow the car 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.

That intervention could involve limiting the car's speed, alerting the Volvo On Call assistance service 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," said Henrik Green, Volvo's senior vice president for research and development. "In this case, cameras will monitor for behaviour that may lead to serious injury or death."

Examples of such behaviour include a 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.

Volvo says a driver-monitoring system is an important element of allowing the car itself to make decisions in order to help avoid accidents.

"There are many accidents that occur as a result of intoxicated drivers," said Trent Victor, a 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.

The company - now owned by Chinese auto giant Geely - 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.

Volvo has also announced it will be introducing a Care Key, which allows drivers to impose limitations on the car's top speed on all its cars from model year 2021, before lending their car to others.

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