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Peter Anderson | Jul, 11 2012 | 0 Comments

Volvo has taken another step in its ambitious plan to ensure that nobody is ever killed or seriously injured in its cars, revealing a trio of new safety systems.

The goal, to be reached by 2020, can't be reached with only today's (mostly) standard features: airbags, ABS, electronic stability control and the growing number of other active and passive systems.

So Volvo is turning its attention to the root cause of many accidents, the driver.

Volvo's research says that drivers spend up to 30 percent of their time in the driver's seat doing things other than driving the car, such as using their phones.

"In the modern mobile society we bring our social lives with us wherever we go," Jan Ivarsson, Senior Manager Safety Strategy and Requirements at Volvo, said.

"The car is no exception. For us it's quite simply a matter of creating technology that provides the driver with the right support at all times, [so] we have a number of research projects with the aim to develop new technologies for future Volvo models."

Volvo is researching three separate technologies: Autonomous Driving Support, Intersection Support and Animal Detection.

The first, Autonomous Driving Support, is the most interesting one and flows on from what Volvo has learned about driver distractions.

As with the SARTRE convoy driving system reported in May, existing technology can be harnessed to keep the car moving with traffic, but in this case, at slower speed.

"Driving in slow queues is a monotonous and boring part of many drivers' everyday lives," Fredrik Lundholm, Function Developer at the Safety Functions department, said.

"Thanks to technology for autonomous driving, the car can help the driver comfortably and safely follow the vehicle in front."

Intersection support is intended to reduce accidents at spots where Volvo research indicated that over twenty percent of fatalities across the US and Europe occur.

The technology is intended to help brake and steer a car when an emergency arises at an intersection, such as another car running a red light.

The final piece, Animal Detection, is to help reduce collisions with wildlife.

Every year in Canada, there are around 40,000 accidents involving errant wildlife, while that number rises in Sweden to 47,000, seven thousand of which involve elks.

In Australia, the NRMA told Volvo that in 2008 there were 6371 collisions with kangaroos.

Many of the injuries and fatalities are attributed not to hitting the animal, but the driver swerving to avoid it and ending up crashing into another car or losing control and leaving the road.

"The technology is a further development of our pedestrian protection system," Andreas Eidehall, Technical Expert Active Safety, said.

"Considerable attention has been focused on ensuring that the system works in the dark since most collisions with wild animals take place at dawn and dusk."

The system will brake the car from its cruising speed and attempt to reduce the collision speed to below 80km/h, where Volvo believes their safety systems are most effective.

Animals will be recognised by their shapes, but Eidehall concedes animals have a habit of staying out of sight.

As with the SARTRE system, the new initiatives rely purely on technology within the car rather than expecting governments and road authorities to install roadside equipment.

"Development of these technologies is progressing very quickly. And with steadily lower prices for sensors and other electronic components, it is our intention that these advanced solutions will in future be fitted to all our cars," Ivarsson said.

"Having said that, close cooperation with the relevant public authorities, insurance companies and other car manufacturers is also vital for achieving the vision of an accident free traffic environment."

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