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Volvo pushes universal safety regulations, shows safer controls

Volvo notes large gap between safety in developed and in developing nations

Published: February 19, 2020, 10:00 PM
Updated: February 29, 2020, 4:50 AM

Polestar future HMI features proximity sensors

Long renowned for its safety record, Volvo is putting forth a couple new safety proposals to make roads around the world safer.

Volvo XC90 seatbelt

The first is a safety initiative, calling on governments and regulators to address the disparity in road safety measures between developed and developing economies, with data backing up the significant gap in the number of traffic fatalities in both categories of countries.

“Global data shows that there is a significant inequality in road safety,” said Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “Those safety gaps need to be addressed through technology, but also by creating and enhancing a global safety culture. We need to understand and address the variation in seat belt usage, while infrastructure should focus on improving the safety of vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists.”

Malin Ekholm, Vice-President Volvo Cars Safety Centre

Each year, an estimated 1.35 million people lose their lives in traffic incidents, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) showing the risk of traffic death is three times higher in developing countries than in developed ones.

Volvo is encouraging the promotion of safety-belt usage and setting and enforcing seat-belt laws for both front- and rear-seat users (only 105 countries currently have laws that cover all seating positions), as well as encouraging the separation of road usage for motorized vehicles and use by vulnerable users, such as pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists (which account for more than half of all traffic-related fatalities).

Polestar future HMI

“Creating a better understanding of the value and need for adequate basic protection is crucial,” said Ekholm. “And we need the help of the UN and national lawmakers to address this through legislation and information. At Volvo Cars we look forward to being part of and contributing to this.”

The second safety initiative relates to improving the human-machine interface (HMI) in Polestar vehicles, making control over functions and everyday driving actions a more seamless and natural digital experience.

Polestar future HMI

Through further collaboration with Google, the company is developing an expansion to the personalized driver settings already available through the use of the Polestar Digital Key (mirror settings, seat adjustments, radio pre-sets, etc.) to include features based on habits, preferences and conditions.

“We already showed the world we take digital integration in our cars seriously and are open to collaborate with experts in these fields,” says Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO. “Now we continue that story, sharing a vision that is even more in tune with the preferences of our individual customers. Building on the Android infotainment system in Polestar 2, our future systems will make life in our cars easier, safer and more fun.”

Polestar future HMI

The Google Assistant takes on a more prominent role, using advanced speech technology and understanding more languages and dialects to allow voice commands using natural language, rather than pre-set recognizable commands.

But perhaps more important is the company’s intent to limit information overload through the implementation of advanced eye-tracking and proximity sensors that allow controls and displays to remain dimmed until such time as a driver looks at or reaches for them, respectively. For example, the instrument cluster speedometer or battery level will remain unobtrusive until the driver looks at them to check speed or driving range, at which point they illuminate brighter. The system will also warn drivers if they are spending too much time looking at displays or touching controls.