It’s quite the undertaking!
According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, 32,719 people died in vehicle collisions in 2013. These deaths were caused by poor road conditions, alcohol, speeding, lack of seatbelts and a few other reasons. Many of these deaths could have been avoided with safer cars.
Volvo has recently promised a death-proof vehicle by 2020, and that’s quite the undertaking. ExtremeTech reports on some of the ways they are working towards their goal:
Adaptive Cruise Control: This feature lets a driver set a maximum speed but also ensures that the vehicle keeps a safe distance from the car in front of it. If it senses that the driver is getting too close, it can brake, and if it thinks that a collision is about to happen, it will warn the driver and take action if the driver does not do so. This won’t necessarily mean avoiding a collision completely, but it would minimize the impact.
SEE ALSO: Can a Self-Driving Car Get a Ticket?
Lane Assistance: This technology would use cameras to detect lanes and alert a driver if he or she is drifting. This would be particularly useful for a driver prone to falling asleep at the wheel.
Pedestrian and Large Animal Detection: Cameras on the car will be used to watch out for pedestrians and large animals. Similarly to the adaptive cruise control, a driver will be alerted if the vehicle is getting too close and the car will brake automatically if necessary.
These technologies already exist individually, but Volvo hopes that by combining them, they can make an extra safe car: "If you meet Swedish engineers, they're pretty genuine," Lex Kerssemakers, CEO of Volvo Cars North America, said to CNN Money. "They don't say things when they don't believe in it."
Whether or not Volvo cars become entirely autonomous, these systems will run in the background and make the cars safer. Of course, if a driver is determined to crash or to drive recklessly, then that will be a different story — automated systems can only do so much.
Volvo’s concerns with safety are not new. They have been tracking collision and death statistics for their vehicles for a number of years, and Volvo is one of just nine vehicle models in which nobody died from 2009 to 2012 — the most recent period for which the statistics are available.
Nobody can say for sure what cars will be like in 2020, but I really hope that they can make their promise come true!