VOLVO 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.
Limiting speed and installing in-car cameras illustrate how manufacturers can take active responsibility for the aim of achieving zero traffic fatalities by supporting better driver behaviour.
The Swedish carmaker plans to deploy in-car cameras to intervene against intoxication and distraction as part of its ambitions to end fatalities in its cars. Introduction of the cameras on all Volvo models will start on the next generation of its scalable SPA2 vehicle platform in the early 2020s.
Ahead of that, in 2021, Volvo will install its Care Key as standard on all models allowing buyers to set a speed limit for themselves, family members or friends.
This follows the announcement earlier this month that the company will limit the top speed on all its cars to 112mph from 2020.
Apart from speeding, intoxication and distraction are two other primary areas of concern for traffic safety. Together, these three areas constitute the main ‘gaps’ towards Volvo Cars’ vision of a future with zero traffic fatalities.
It believes intoxication and distraction should be addressed by installing in-car cameras and other sensors that monitor the driver and 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.
Examples of such behaviour include a complete 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.
Trent Victor, 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.”
Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo Cars’ President and Chief Executive, said that the company 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 owners’ behaviour.
He said: “We believe that a car maker has a responsibility to help improve traffic safety. Our recently announced speed limit fits that thinking, and the Care Key is another example.
“Many want to be able to share their car with friends and family, but are unsure about how to make sure they are safe on the road. The Care Key provides one good solution and extra peace of mind.”
Beyond the potential safety benefits, features such as a speed limit and the Care Key are also likely to offer Volvo drivers a financial benefit.
The company is currently inviting insurance companies in several markets to conversations to offer special, favourable insurance to the Volvo community using these safety features.
Specific deals and terms will depend on local market circumstances, but Volvo Cars expects to announce the first of several agreements with national insurance firms soon.