Volvo announced at the Detroit Auto Show that it’ll put the safety of autonomous driving to the test
This post is written on behalf of the SteelMarket Development Institute, which underwrote our participation in the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.
Cars that drive themselves are part of our future—that’s clear—and that future is coming a lot sooner than most people assumed, thanks to a program Volvo Cars announced at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.
Volvo Cars introduced a family of four—the Hain family—during its press conference at the event, handing them the keys to a Volvo XC90 that they’ll put to the test on the roads of Gotherburg in Sweden (where Volvo is based).
The premium auto maker is taking a unique approach to the autonomous car concept, putting families in the cars to gather feedback that Volvo can then incorporate into future developments.
It’s part of the Drive Me project—a collaborative research program involving people in the public, private and academic fields. The point is to get real-life experience from this family while using the autonomous vehicle.
Volvo plans to have about 100 autonomous vehicles on the road this year as part of the project. The intention is to expand to other cities around the world in the near future.
Henrik Green, Senior Vice President, Research and Development at Volvo Car Group, explains, “We want to learn more around how people feel when they engage and disengage autonomous drive, what the handover should be like, and what sort of things they would do in the car when it’s driving them to their destination.”
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The Swedish car maker plans to have its first fully autonomous car on the market by 2021. The company has already partnered with Uber to develop base technology for autonomous cars. They’ve also launched a joint venture with automotive supplier Autoliv called Zenuity aimed at developing benchmark software and safety solutions.
Volvo is famous for safety, so no compromises
While Volvo is developing autonomous technology that will keep us safe, the company makes no compromises in this area and never has. The vehicle the Drive Me research project uses is the Volvo XC90. It’s a luxury SUV that won the Top Safety Pick designation for 2017. One of the reasons it took that top honor is the engineering that goes into it: with a history of putting safety first and the best crash ratings in the business, Volvo continually refines its technology and engineering.
Volvo, like many other car brands focused on innovative safety, relies increasingly on steel as a core component. Starting with a body structure that is more than 40% steel, Volvo uses hot-formed boron steel, the strongest type of steel presently used in cars but lightweight enough to improve fuel economy. Volvo uses a mix of other steel grades for different uses, such as hood and door panels or ‘crush zones’ that are designed to absorb impact in a crash. By engineering its steel and putting the right type to the right use in its models, Volvo has long ensured its lead in the safety ratings.
But Volvo hopes those crush zones will go unused. With a goal of having zero deaths or injuries in Volvo cars by 2020, the company continues to innovate to ensure it meets its goal. You can see more about how Volvo is engineering safety in this video and you can learn more about the role of steel in safety by visiting the Steel Market Development Institute’s site, Drive Using Steel.