Swedish proving ground focused on crash-free future

AstaZero proving ground designed to test driver-assistance and autonomous functions

Published: August 23, 2014, 4:30 PM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 2:32 PM

Volvo at Astazero proving ground

The recently opened AstaZero proving ground, near Gothenburg in western Sweden, is the world’s first full-scale proving ground with a primary focus on future traffic safety solutions.

The 200-hectare (500-acre) facility can accommodate a wide range of real-world traffic conditions, including city streets, highways, multi-lane expressways and crossroads.

According to Volvo, which is based in Gothenburg and will be a major user of the test facility, these conditions are crucial for studying the way cars interact with moving obstacles such as other cars, pedestrians, cycles, mopeds, motorcycles, trucks, buses and even animals.

"You can simulate all types of real-world traffic scenarios," says Pether Wallin, CEO of AstaZero. "At most proving grounds, the options are more limited."

In some cases, such as those involving complex traffic situations and high speeds, it even will be possible for robots to operate the test vehicles.

Based on a collaboration between academia, industry and the government agencies, the AstaZero facility is intended to serve as an open, international stage for use by all interested stakeholders, including vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, legislators, universities, and technical organizations.

Current industry partners include Volvo Car Group, Volvo Group, Scania, Autoliv and Test Site Sweden.

The name Asta (Active Safety Test Area) relates to the facility’s connection to a vision of zero traffic fatalities.

Volvo has a stated vision that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.

An important step in achieving that goal, as well as moving beyond to fully autonomous vehicles, will be the further development of active safety systems. Testing those systems under realistic circumstances is a prerequisite for their development, says Anders Axelson of Volvo's Safety Centre.

"The Swedish automotive industry is at the leading edge of active safety, says Axelson. "Thanks to AstaZero, we have great prospects for keeping our leading position.

"We’re the only car manufacturing company in the world to have set a goal of zero traffic fatalities for a specific date, and we’re the only country in the world whose government supports a zero traffic fatalities vision."