Volvo develops the 'no death' car: Vehicles which drive themselves and are totally crashproof could be on British roads in eight years
Vehicle will be fitted with sensors that can detect potential collisions and take actionFirm claims 'nobody will be killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020'
07:45 GMT, 5 December 2012
Car giant Volvo is developing 'no death' cars that drive themselves and are impossible to crash – ready for launch in showrooms within eight years.
The computerised vehicles will be fitted with high-tech sensors and will 'refuse to be steered' into other objects.
Volvo says they will be on sale to customers by 2020, but that some of the life-saving technology will be incorporated into its vehicles even earlier – from 2014 – it says.
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The car will be fitted with dozens of sensors allowing it to monitor both pedestrians and other traffic, and take action to avoid collisions. Volvo claims by 2020 it can eradicate accidents and deaths in its vehicles.
Sensors will also work at high speeds, ensuring the car is a safe distance from surrounding vehicles
THE FUTURE OF DRIVING
Ford’s global chairman Bill Ford
Jnr, great grandson of automotive pioneer Henry Ford, announced earlier
this year that motorists will soon be able to tell their car ‘switch
He stressed that much of the
technology was already being developed, trialled and tested at Ford
engineering and research centres, such as at Aachen in Germany and
Dunton in Essex. Mr Ford predicts:
Within 5 to 7 years motorists will
see increasingly ‘intuitive’ in-car mobile communications options and
driver aids that actively alert motorists to traffic jams and accidents
.Between 2017 and 2025 a driver will
be able to select ‘auto-pilot’ to help him or her on their journey.
Vehicle sensors will also help reduce the number of accidents at
junctions and enable cars to carry out limited ‘semi-autonomous and
autonomous’ lane changing.
Drivers will be use voice commands to
instruct the car at which junction it should leave the motorway.From 2025 drivers and passengers
will be in smart vehicles capable of fully autonomous navigation, with
increased ‘auto pilot’, Not only will they park themselves in a space,
but also in the garage.
Volvo's head of government affairs
Anders Eugensson said: ‘Our vision is that no one is killed or injured
in a new Volvo by 2020.’
Volvo – now owned by China's Geely group – said the first versions of
its crash-free cars would meant for driving in towns at a maximum speed
is part of the race by leading car manufacturers including Volvo, Ford
Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Vauxhall and even Google to build fully automomous
‘Robo-cars’ that can drive themselves – like the one which actor Will
Smith drove in the sci-fi movie ‘I, Robot.’
biggest hurdle is not the technology which is largely developed – but
public acceptance of it and and issues of who would be liable if a
crashproof car did actually crash: the driver or the manufacturer
Mr Eugensson said;’We have tested prototypes on thousands of miles of
test drives on public roads in Spain and on the company's test track in
‘The car of the future will be like the farmer's horse.'
'The farmer can steer the horse and carriage but if he falls asleep the horse will refuse to walk into a tree or off a cliff.’
85-year-old company – which has always prided itself on producing the
world's safest cars and developed the three-point seat-belt – said it
hoped to launch the first vehicles in 2014 at speeds of up to 31 mph –
for use in heavy urban traffic – with totally accident free vehicles at
higher speeds by 2020.
are already underway to amend international law under the Vienna
Convention on Road traffic which would remove current blocks on fully
he convention, which underpins EU and UK law, says the driver must be in control of the vehicle at all times.
New technology means that need not be the case.
has had 50 engineers working with automotive partners such as Ricardo
U.K. on the new crash-proof car technology over the last several years.
prototypes have run thousands of miles of test drives on public roads
in Spain and on the company’s test track in western Sweden.
Marcus Rothoff, head of developing
Volvo’s driver assistance technology said: 'We are convinced this is the
future and we want to get there first’.
Volvo has built some of the collision sensors into its current S40, and plans to have more advanced systems in cars by 2014
For sceptics who say it’s pie in the
sky, industry experts and bosses point out that the same was said of
satellite-navigation, air-bags, self-parking car systems, sensors which
‘see’ white lines and keep vehicles in their motorway lanes, collision
avoidance and autonomous cruise control that brakes automatically the
car if it comes to close to the vehicle in front – all of which are
features on cars sold in showrooms today.
Mercedes-Benz’s next generation
flagship S-Class which goes on sale next early year. Incorporates a
self-braking system that operates at speeds of up to 124 mph on German
motorways, as well as in towns.
US internet search engine Google has also been testing its own prototype of a self-driving car since 2010.
VOLVO'S ROAD TRAIN
is also working on a system to enable motorists to safely and
legally read, send e-mails make phone calls or have a snooze while
driving at the wheel under a new ‘commuter car ’ system it has
It turns convoys of vehicles into self-driving ‘road-trains.’
The Swedish car maker’s project
permits lines of up to six cars dive autonomously almost bumper to
bumper while driver switches off, does some office work, reads a book
or has a snooze while letting the road-train convoy take the strain.
Each car’s braking, acceleration
and steering is instead all controlled electronically by a lead truck –
driven by a professional driver – at the head of the line.
The truck uses radio signals to control the cars behind it.
All the vehicles are fitted with a
special computerised control unit fitted to their engine management
systems to tell the car when to accelerate, brake and steer without any
input from the driver.
Once a vehicle is ‘locked on’ to
the convoy a system of lasers and sensors helps keep the cars a safe
distance from one another.
The technology has been developed for Volvo by British firm Ricardo.
Drivers can signal their intention
to leave the convoy and resume control of the car by simply pressing a
button on the dashboard.
Volvo has spent the last three
years working on the Safe Road Trains for the Environment project known
as SARTRE – in a play on the name of the French existentialist
philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who famously and here fittingly said:
‘Hell is other people’ and ‘Man is condemned to be free. ’
Volvo has already begun testing the technology. Here, a driver drinks tea as his car automatically drives itself, keeping a safe distance from the lorry in front
It has been made possible thanks to 5.1million of funding from the European union.
Experts say self-drive cars are potentially safer because they take the risk of human error out of motoring.
Volvo says the car train is ideal for lengthy motorway journeys.
Not only do drivers make better use of their time, but the smoother journey cuts fuel consumption by 20 per cent.
VIDEO: A demonstration of Volvo's “City Safety” feature:
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