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Volvo Cars CEO urges government & industry to share safety-related traffic data; will skip Level 3 autonomy

Volvo Cars is urging governments and car makers to share traffic data in order to improve global traffic safety, Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive, told a conference at the European Commission in Brussels on Monday. Sharing anonymized data related to traffic safety in real-time can provide a strong boost to overall traffic safety while safeguarding the privacy of individual road users, Samuelsson said.

Volvo started doing exactly this in Sweden and Norway two years ago, in collaboration with local authorities.

We think this type of data sharing should be done for free, for the greater good and to the wider benefit of society. It saves lives, time and taxpayer money. I call on other car makers and governments to work with us on realising this type of data sharing as widely as possible.

—Håkan Samuelsson, President & CEO, Volvo Car Group

In 2015, Volvo Cars started a collaboration on sharing safety data with the road administration authorities in Sweden and Norway. Via a cloud based network, all Volvo cars in a certain area share anonymized information about road friction from their anti-skid systems. The info is transferred in real time to other Volvo drivers notifying them of icy road conditions. The same information is shared with road administrations so that they quickly can address icy road conditions.

The same approach is used to warn drivers when another vehicle turns on its hazard lights, which may indicate a potential dangerous situation on the road ahead. These technologies, Slippery Road Alert and Hazard Light Alert, are standard on all SPA-based vehicles on sale in Sweden and Norway: the XC90, S90, V90, V90 Cross Country and the new XC60.

Samuelsson made his remarks at the “1st European Conference on Connected and Automated Driving” in Brussels, where he also underlined the need to put safety first when developing a regulatory framework for autonomous cars. When it comes to autonomous driving, it is important that the user interface is crystal clear about the role of the driver, he noted.

Samuelsson also expressed his concern about Level 3 autonomous driving modes.

In this mode the car is in charge of the driving, yet the driver must still be prepared to take over in case of emergency, which could be a matter of a few seconds. Volvo considers this Level 3 driving mode unsafe and will thus skip this level of autonomous driving.

—Håkan Samuelsson

” Mr Samuelsson said.

Consequently, when Volvo launches its first autonomous cars in 2021, they will be at Level 4—i.e.,completely unsupervised on applicable roads. This means that these cars will be able to manage emergency situations and bring the car into a safe state by itself without driver interaction and that Volvo will assume liability while the car is in autonomous mode.


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The sooner we get to level 4 and 5 the more lives will be saved. If we can get to it 12 months earlier by using level 3 first we will save nearly 1.2 million lives on a global scale. I am convinced that level 3 will result in some death accidents because of the inattention it induces at some people who simply can’t get it that they must pay attention and must be able to take over immediately. I am not convinced that 1.2 million people will die on that account. Not even close. There are also ways to force drivers to keep attention in a level 3 car like requiring hands on the steering wheel and driver input at least once every 60 seconds etc like Tesla does. The time it takes to evolve from level 3 to level 4 in an OTA updatable car like Tesla is probably also very limited. It will be only 6 to 12 months for Tesla. Volvo is overreacting and thereby risking more deaths as a result.

Level 3 is saving lives both by shortening the time it takes to get to level 4 and 5 and by saving people that would have created an accident if it was not for the always on attention of the level 3 autopilot.

However, once level 4 and 5 becomes available I think the law should require that cars come with minimum level 4 just like cars are required to satisfy crass tests etc. After 2024 no new car should be allowed for sale anywhere on the planet unless it has level 4 or level 5 autonomy. Such a law would save lives and speed up things.


It's very easy to blame the customer that's a cop out. They are not robots! .
Volvo are exactly right to steer clear of level 3.

the level of attention required to drive safely is high but humans need to cycle their thoughts not for some pointless distraction but on the biological level constant signals or inputs are attenuated and we are desensitised on both the short time and also the longer time scales.
There are also examples when constant exposure leads to stress syndrome a function of our complexity to respond to unexpected and perceived threatening situations.
To sit and stare out a window or zoning out is just that devoid of physical activity shuts the body's reaction time right down compared to a body in action.

It may well take several seconds say the 3 mentioned to decide action is required and possibly two more to position the body with another two for the vehicles response to be processed sufficiently to be able to say that the driver is in full control.

At 28 meters per second we could have travelled almost 200 meters before gaining control.
By that time the 'Emergency situation - requiring intervention is likely to be exponentially worse.



Exactly right.

' The dominant paradigm is the human factors paradigm. This
paradigm focuses on human information processing. While driving in the
fully automated mode, drivers will experience a loss of situation awareness,
due to a low workload in which not much information related the driving task
has to be processed. This diminished situation awareness will not be
immediately reactivated after drivers have switched to manual driving.
Indeed, a multitude of studies have indicated that diminished situation
awareness occurs when task demands regarding the driving task are low,
due to the automatization of the driving task. There are also some studies in
which it was found that situation awareness was diminished in acute
threatening situations, directly after resumption of the driving task. This is
even more so the case when the transition of control occurs suddenly and
the driver paid no attention to the driving task just before transition of control.
Studies indicate that driving performance at the operational level (the
longitudinal and lateral control over the vehicle) is also affected after
transition of control. '

The expectation that drivers should be ready to instantly take back control in level 2 and 3 automation is wholly unrealistic and does not accord with human capabilities.


I had to reduce my time estimates to make them more believable. I couldn't contemplate a shorter time delay.
10s and a distance of some hundred to 300 meters would cover the majority of lower level transitions for the attentive driver (life isn't a computer game) Heaven help us when the driver is metaphorically or literally falls asleep at the wheel for any of the many reasons described.
Any parent can tell you that cars are great for putting babes to sleep.

Thanks for the excellent publication.

"3.2. Studies about task execution directly after resumption of control"

"When drivers were attentive, switching to manual and regaining proper control over
the vehicle took on average 10 s. When drivers were less attentive when
driving in the fully automated mode, switching to manual and regaining full
control over the vehicle took circa 35-40 s."

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