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Volvo Car Group introducing autonomous steering, other new safety and driver assistance technologies on XC90 next year

Volvo Car Group will introduce a number of safety and driver assistance technologies in the all-new Volvo XC90 at the end of 2014, including the use of autonomous steering functions to avoid accidents and make driving more comfortable, according to Thomas Broberg, Senior Safety Advisor Volvo Car Group.

Pedestrian detection at night. According to STRADA (Swedish TRaffic Accident Data Acquisition), 44% of all the pedestrian fatalities occurred in darkness, at dusk or dawn. In the US, the traffic fatality rate is 3–4 times higher in darkness (VTI). Volvo’s new Pedestrian Detection in darkness feature will enable Volvo’s detection and auto braking technology to work effectively at night. The technology includes detection and auto brake for other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

Volvo Cars was the first in the industry with detection and auto brake technologies, from the first-generation braking support in 2006, to Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake in 2010, and the latest Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection in 2013.

The camera technology in today’s cars works at dusk and dawn, but it is limited when driving at night. Now, we cover the whole span from dusk to dawn by a smarter and faster high-sensitive camera combined with advanced exposure control.

—Thomas Broberg

Road edge and barrier detection with steer assist. Approximately 25% of all accidents in Volvo Cars’ statistical accident database are accidents with an initial road departure. Two out of three of these occur on roads with speed limits of 70 km/h (43 mph) or more.

In Sweden, road departures cause 53% of all traffic fatalities and 42% of all severe injuries. Half of all traffic fatalities in the United State are road departure accidents (NHTSA).

Volvo’s new road edge and barrier detection with steer assist feature uses a forward-looking camera and radar that cooperate to monitor the road edge and different kinds of road barriers. The technology detects if the car is about to drive off the road and autonomously applies steering torque to bring the vehicle back on track.

Being able to monitor where the physical road ends is a first. This means that the technology also works on roads without side markings.

Adaptive Cruise Control with steer assist. A car with adaptive cruise control and collision warning cuts the risk of colliding with the vehicle in front on a highway by up to 42%, according to a 2012 Euro-FOT study cited by Volvo.

Adaptive Cruise Control with steer assist helps the driver stay in the lane and follow the rhythm of the traffic. With the new system, the car automatically follows the vehicle ahead.

Adaptive Cruise Control with steer assist is an evolution of the current Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Aid technology. The Adaptive Cruise Control enables safe, comfortable driving by automatically maintaining a set gap to the vehicle ahead, at the same time as the steering is controlled automatically.

The driver activates the ACC with steer assist by pushing a button. Using data from a camera and radar sensors, the car can follow the vehicle in front. The engine, brakes and steering respond automatically.

Collision mitigation for animals. Accidents with wild animals often take place at cruising speeds. The risk of severe injuries in a collision with a moose is above 70% if the accident occurs at 100 km/h (62 mph). If the collision speed is reduced by braking to below 70 km/h (43 mph), the risk of severe injuries is significantly lower.

Collision mitigation for animals—another first—detects and automatically brakes for animals both in daylight and in the dark. Active and passive safety systems cooperate in order to help minimise the consequences. The technology, which is designed to help the driver avoid accidents or reduce the speed of impact, will be introduced some time after the all-new XC90 arrives by the end of 2014.

Volvo Car Group is also demonstrating other features that are part of the continuous aim to bring the number of people killed and seriously injured in new Volvo cars down to zero by 2020, such as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications and autonomous parking.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication. In the US, 6% of all accidents and 3% of all fatalities and are caused by slippery road conditions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of all accidents in the Volvo Cars’ database, 6–7% occur in slippery road conditions.

NHTSA also finds that in the US, 10% of all traffic fatalities at intersections are the result of red light violations. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that half of the people killed in red-light violation crashes are not the signal violators. They are drivers and pedestrians hit by the vehicle that drove through the red light.

Volvo Cars has signed a memorandum of understanding with the members of the Car 2 Car Communication Consortium regarding the implementation of standardized technology for communication between cars from 2016 onwards. The aim is for inter-car communication to function between all cars, irrespective of make. The technology is based on communication between transmitters in vehicles and the road infrastructure, such as road signs and traffic lights.

Examples of application areas for the technology include:

  • Green light optimum speed advisory. Via a transmitter in the traffic light, information is generated regarding the optimum speed for a car to maintain in order to pass through a succession of green lights, thus avoiding unnecessary braking for red. At red lights, the driver can also receive information about how long it will be before the light turns green.

  • Weather and road condition information. Issues a warning about local bad weather such as heavy rain, snowfall or icy roads. It is also possible to transmit information about local icy or slippery road patches from one car to other vehicles.

  • Emergency vehicle warning. Alerts the driver to the presence of nearby emergency vehicles, allowing him or her to create free passage well in advance and without being taken by surprise. This can be of benefit in the evening and at night in urban areas where emergency vehicles use their sirens more sparingly out of consideration for nearby residents and also if loud music is playing in the car.

  • Emergency brake warning. Vehicles that brake hard on the road can create dangerous situations for other road users. Car 2 Car warns if a vehicle further ahead suddenly slows down.

  • Slow or broken-down vehicle warning Slow or broken-down vehicles in the roadway can transmit a warning to other road users. Receiving information well in advance can cut the risk of surprises in traffic and thus reduce accidents.

  • Road construction warning. Alerts the driver to road construction. Construction vehicles and heavy equipment can transmit information to vehicles well in advance of the site. Drivers can thus receive information about changed speed limits and altered routes near the worksite. The system can also keep the driver informed about the remaining distance before the end of a long roadwork zone.

  • Traffic jam ahead warning. Alerts the driver to traffic stops or tailbacks. Since vehicles to the rear are alerted that there is a stop further ahead, there is less risk of accidents.


Bob Wallace

Good stuff. And with Volvo's history of working to bring safer cars to market it's a great company to be introducing these features.

I hope insurance companies monitor the results carefully and generously reward Volvo owners if their accident rates are lower than average. That will help speed the inclusion of this technology in other vehicles.


Why can't Volvo make a car that will automatically brake for a red-light? Oh, I forgot that "Big brother" haters claim that they cause accidents because tailgaters smash into the car stopping for the red light.


Why can't these Volvo genius engineers make a traffic light that doesn't change when somebody makes a right turn on red? Think of all the energy that could be saved by not making 50 cars stop needlessly everytime this happens.

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