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Volvo promises a car that can steer itself

John Day

John Day

Posted Jul 11, 2013

Volvo says it wants to bring the number of people killed and seriously injured in new Volvo cars down to zero by 2020, and with that goal in mind the automaker plans to include quite a few safety and support technologies in its XC90, due at the end of 2014.

“When the first XC90 was introduced in 2002, it featured a number of groundbreaking safety features, including a world-first solution that helps prevent rollovers,” says Thomas Broberg, Volvo Car Group’s Senior Safety Advisor.

“By revealing a number of systems for the next generation XC90 we once again confirm our leadership in automotive safety.” For example, he adds, “We are introducing the first Volvos with autonomous steering to avoid accidents and make driving more comfortable.”

Adaptive Cruise Control includes steer assist that can help the driver stay in the lane and follow the rhythm of the traffic by automatically following the vehicle ahead.

“Our approach is based on autonomously driven cars being able to move safely in environments with non-autonomous vehicles and unprotected road users,” says Broberg.

Another feature, road edge and barrier detection with steer assist, detects if the car is about to drive off the road, then autonomously applies steering torque to bring the vehicle back on track. Broberg says the ability to monitor where the physical road ends is a world first. He notes that the technology works on roads with or without side markings.

And then there’s parking. Although it might not be ready next year, autonomous parking is a Volvo concept technology that allows a car to find and park in a vacant space by itself, allowing the driver to leave the vehicle at the entrance to the car park.

Broberg explains that combining autonomous driving with detection and auto brake for other objects makes it possible for the car to interact safely with other cars and pedestrians in the car park. The speed and braking are adapted for smooth integration in the parking environment.

Other safety features coming soon include pedestrian detection and auto brake in darkness, and collision mitigation for animals. Broberg considers pedestrian detection and auto brake in darkness a “world first” feature that watches for other vehicles and cyclists as well as for pedestrians. Similarly, collision mitigation for animals detects and automatically brakes for animals both in daylight and in the dark.

Volvo XC90, automotive safety, autonomous parking, Pedestrian Detection, Volvo Car Group, autonomous steering, collision mitigation

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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