Safety in a car is important, as is made clear when you see new cars marketed with their safety ratings proudly on show. Volvo has now gone one step bolder than their rivals, with their North American CEO, Lex Kerssemakers, telling CNN that their complete lineup of cars and SUVs will be entirely deathproof by 2020.
Volvo’s plan to achieve the deathproof car involves the incorporation of a number of technologies we have already seen in the development of autonomous cars, including adaptive cruise control, auto lane keeping assists and collision avoidance. This isn’t to say that Volvo’s fully safe car is fully autonomous, instead, the safety assists will run regardless of autonomous or manual control. This results in a reverse of current self-driving cars, where instead of the manual driver taking over in an emergency, the safety systems will kick and override the driver when needed. Most of the technologies Volvo plans to put to work here also already exist in autonomous vehicles, which may explain their confidence in the timeframe.
Volvo also already tracking the number of deaths that occur in their vehicles worldwide. This may seem morbid, but in fact, it helps the engineers at Volvo see the impact of new safety measures in each generation of car and predict how much safer the car can be made. Fatality-free cars are not a new thing either, with the Volvo XC90 (and eight other non-Volvo vehicles) having no recorded fatalities in the US between 2009 and 2012, which is the most recently available data on the subject.
It is unlikely that even the safest car can save those going out of their way to put themselves at risk or ignore the rules of the road, but for the sane majority of drivers, this is a great move. It is nice to think that by the start of the next decade driving could be no less hazardous that walking around your own home, for both those behind the wheel and pedestrians.