Volvo is hard at work to make good on its goal that by 2020, nobody will be killed or seriously hurt in a new Volvo. In addition to the three new active safety features that will be first available on the 2015 Volvo XC90, the Swedish automaker is developing driver sensors that can recognize specific drivers, monitor their behavior, and activate safety technologies if necessary.
Volvo calls the new safety monitoring system Driver State Estimation. Using infrared light, sensors mounted to the dashboard in front of the driver can monitor what the driver is looking at, if his or her eyes are closing, and the tilt of his or her head. If the system determines that the driver is at risk of crashing, the lane keeping, collision warning with automatic braking, and adaptive cruise functions will intervene automatically.
“This will enable the driver to be able to rely a bit more on their car, and know that it will help them when needed,” said Volvo project engineer Per Landfors in a statement.
The application for the driver sensors go beyond safety, as well. Sensors could identify a driver by recognizing specific points on his or her face, and adjust seat position accordingly.
Self-driving cars are one of Volvo’s major points of focus moving forward, and the technology has the potential to communicate with an autonomous system about whether the driver is capable of taking over driving duties. Already Volvo is researching magnet technology that could keep autonomous cars safely on the road, which could work in concert with the Driver State Estimation during non-autonomous driving.
As Volvo continues to buoy its reputation as an automaker on the cutting edge of safety, look to see these new technologies in future Volvo vehicles. Built on Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture, new Volvo models beginning with the 2015 XC90 will be specifically engineered to take on new safety technology as it develops and evolves over time.