There was once a time where Volvo was considered to be the car manufacturer that made some of the safest automobiles on the road.
That recognition, however, has since shifted to Elon Musk's Tesla line of electric vehicles that include the Model S and the Model X.
Tesla's cars are so safe that they've even broken the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's crash testing gear. More specifically, Tesla's 5-star safety rating on its Model S currently holds the record for a vehicle with the lowest likelihood of causing injury to occupants.
Volvo, nonetheless, is looking to take its title back by going so far as to predict that all of its fleet will be completely "deathproof" by 2020. That's much easier said than done, of course.
But besides building their cars to be as structurally safe as possible, the Chinese-owned Swedish carmaker also plans to equip its vehicles with a number of advanced technologies to achieve its ambitious goal in just four years.
"With the development of full autonomy we are going to push the limits of automotive safety because if you make a fully autonomous vehicle you have to think through everything that potentially can happen with a car," says Erik Coelingh, a Volvo safety engineer, in a recent CNN report.
The technology that will help Volvo back up its claims includes adaptive cruise control, auto lane keeping assistance, collision avoidance, pedestrian avoidance and many others that even include large animal detection. Volvo dubs its safety technology "IntelliSafe."
Sensors do all of the grunt work in Volvo's IntelliSafe system. Those sensors allow a Volvo to "see" everything around it. Its 360 Surround View feature allows the driver to get a sort of bird's-eye view of their Volvo and their surroundings. The feature is also especially helpful when parking in tight spaces.
Out on the open road or on a highway, Adaptive Cruise Control, for example, automatically keeps the Volvo at a safe distance from the other car in front of it. If the Volvo happens to be speeding and there isn't enough time to give a warning, the car will brake on its own to avoid a collision.
When a Volvo isn't speeding, and cruises at speeds below 30 mph or so, Volvo's Pilot Assist Technology coupled with the Lane Keeping Aid feature uses lane markers to keep the car within the correct lane with light, automatic nudges of the steering wheel, all without driver input.
Sometimes, the driver isn't the best source of input. We've all gotten drowsy or distracted at the wheel and Volvo's Driver Alert Control keeps drivers in check. The system observes if the driver is getting drowsy or inattentive and pops open an alert notifying the driver to take a break. It even offers suggestions on the safest spot to do so with what Volvo calls a Rest Stop Guidance function.
Finally, city streets are the likeliest places to get into some sort of accident. Especially in big cities, it's just madness out there but Volvo's City Safety technology is able to make sense of it all.
The Volvo can make out pedestrians and animals, and whether or not they're standing still or moving into the Volvo's path. If the vehicle detects a collision might occur, it will automatically brake for the driver to avoid an impact. Actually, Volvo seems to like braking for the driver so much that it will also do so for bicyclists and other cars that are on a collision course with a Volvo.
Now all of this tech is already available from Volvo and other carmakers. The challenge is to combine all of these technologies together in a single vehicle to make it virtually crashproof.
Photo: Dave Conner | Flickr