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Volvo to Install Sensors & Cameras in Upcoming Models to Prevent Impaired Driving

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【Summary】Swedish automaker Volvo Cars has come up with a new solution to prevent drivers from operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The automaker announced today it will introduce an in-vehicle system using cameras in the passenger compartment to monitor a driver’s behavior and detect if they are impaired.

Eric Walz    Mar 20, 2019 4:45 PM PT
Volvo to Install Sensors & Cameras in Upcoming Models to Prevent Impaired Driving

Driving while impaired not only poses a danger to the driver, it's a danger to all other road users and remains one of the leading causes of traffic fatalities in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), in 2016 there were 10,497 deaths from alcohol-impaired driving crashes.

In addition, alcohol related fatalities accounted for 28 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities in the United States in 2016.

Swedish automaker Volvo Cars has come up with a new safety solution to prevent drivers from operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The automaker announced today it will introduce an in-vehicle system using cameras in the passenger compartment to monitor a driver's behavior and detect if they are impaired.

"There are many accidents that occur as a result of intoxicated drivers," says 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."

Among the behaviors the cameras may detect are the lack of steering input for extended periods of time, whether a driver's eyes are open, detecting if a driver takes their eyes off the road for extended periods of time, checking if the vehicle is maintaining its lane position or monitoring for excessively slow reaction times.

Intervention methods may include limiting the car's speed, alerting the Volvo on Call assistance service, or as a last resort, automatically slowing down and safely parking the car. The system is designed to allow the car itself to actively make decisions in order to help avoid accidents that could result in injuries or death.

"When it comes to safety, our aim is to avoid accidents altogether rather than limit the impact when an accident is imminent and unavoidable," says Henrik Green, Senior Vice President, Research & Development at Volvo Cars. "In this case, cameras will monitor for behavior that may lead to serious injury or death."

Volvo announced the cameras will be installed on models beginning with the next generation of Volvo's scalable SPA2 vehicle platform in the early 2020s. The automaker said further details, including the number of cameras and their placement in the vehicle's interior, will be revealed at a later date.

Volvo will also address the problem of speeding, with technology to limit a vehicle's top speed. The automaker announced "Care Key", which allows a Volvo driver to impose limitations on their car's top speed on all cars from model year 2021. This system may be helpful for owners before letting someone borrow their car.

Both the speed limit and the installation of in-car cameras illustrate how automakers can take responsibility for the aim of achieving zero traffic fatalities by supporting better driving behavior. Volvo said limiting the top speed on all its vehicles to 111 mph will send a strong message about the dangers of speeding.

Volvo said that all new cars will come with Care Key beginning with model year 2021. Volvo is expecting that insurance companies will offer discounts to drivers that use Care Key.

The new technology combined with Volvo's existing advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) is designed to save lives and reduce injuries, while making roads much safer for all users.

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