How much does Volvo care about automotive safety? Enough that the Swedish automaker is about to go Santa Claus on you — it sees you when you're drowsy, it knows when you're awake. A new in-car sensing suite is part of what the Volvo EX90, the brand's upcoming electric SUV, will offer in its quest to be the safest model ever.
"People can be distracted, stressed, drowsy, or in another state that impacts driving. And when people are not at their best, they may need help," Volvo says. To give you that help, it is introducing the "driver understanding" system with the upcoming EX90.
“Our research shows that by simply observing where the driver is looking and how often and for how long their eyes are closed, we can tell a lot about the state of the driver,” said Emma Tivesten, Senior Technical Expert, Volvo Cars Safety Center.
“By basing its calculations on our research findings, the sensing system allows our cars to identify whether the driver’s ability is impaired, perhaps due to drowsiness, distraction, or other causes for inattention and to offer extra assistance in a way that best suits the situation.”
The system uses two cameras watching the driver's eye-gaze patterns. If you're not looking at the road enough, it might determine you're on your phone. Staring too hard at the road? You may have zoned out.
Using patented tech that monitors those habits and senses your steering behaviour, the EX90 will "be able to take appropriate action to help the driver when needed." This could mean early warning beeps that could escalate to pulling the car over and stopping.
Outside of the car, the EX90 will come loaded with LiDAR sensors. The system, increasingly common as automakers work to develop autonomous driving, uses pulsed lasers to form a picture of the area around the car. Volvo says adding LiDAR to a vehicle can "reduce accidents with severe outcomes by up to 20 per cent," and cut crashes by nine per cent overall.
The EX90's sensors can spot pedestrians up to 250 metres away or see a black tire on a black road up to 120 metres ahead. Volvo says this will let the EX90 better know what is going on around it, letting it better use its advanced assistance features to help avoid or reduce the severity of crashes.
“We believe the EX90 to be the safest Volvo car to ever hit the road,” said Joachim de Verdier, head of Safe Vehicle Automation at Volvo Cars. “We are fusing our understanding of the outside environment with our more detailed understanding of driver attention. When all our safety systems, sensors, software, and computing power come together, they create a preventative shield of safety around you – and you won’t even know it’s there until you need it.”
Yes, this is all a bit vague, but the EX90 will have a multitude of sensors, and Volvo is calling the model its safest ever. When do we get the rest of the details? Volvo says they're coming on November 9.