by Rob Hull, Motoring Editor for MailOnline & ThisisMoney.co.uk
The X90 will be the first car to monitor drivers using cameras and sensors to detect if they are falling asleep, drunk or overly distracted while behind the wheel.
The suite of technology includes eight cameras, five radars, 16 ultrasonic sensors and an advanced ‘lidar’ system to create ‘an invisible 360-degree safety shield’ that it believes can reduce serious road accidents by up to a fifth.
While these are designed to warn motorists of potential hazards around them, it will also have two interior cameras, an attitude sensor and a touch-sensitive steering wheel to permanently monitor drivers to see if they are drowsy, ill or looking at their phone while on the phone. be the work. wheel.
And if a motorist doesn’t respond to a series of warnings, he can take control of the vehicle and bring it to a stop if he thinks an accident is imminent.
Do you keep your eyes on the road? Volvo’s new EX90 becomes the first car equipped with two interior cameras to keep an eye on the driver at all times
Volvo prides itself on being at the forefront of vehicle safety and is one of the pioneers in new technology to reduce the number of collisions with its latest cars.
In recent years, it has led the way with a number of new safety features, including speed limiters on all of its new vehicles produced from 2020 that restrict drivers to speeds of no more than 112 mph.
The Swedish company is also the first to offer customers a separate key that they can give to their newly graduated children and other family members who, when used to start the car, have a speed limit preset by the owners, which can restricting users to driving at a maximum speed of only 50 km/h.
Still, the EX90 promises to take things to the next level thanks to a plethora of technology, including – for the first time ever – interior cameras to keep a permanent eye on the driver.
Volvo says this is the most advanced version of its ‘Driver Understanding system’, which it has been developing intensively over the past three years.
The cameras calculate how long the user looks at the road ahead and then decide whether their attention is focused on something other than driving
How does the technology work to improve safety?
Two cameras in the cab constantly measure the user’s eye gaze concentration and a sensor also monitors the driver’s posture.
One of the cameras is embedded under the driver’s digital instrument panel behind the wheel and the other is positioned higher in the speaker housing.
This “maximizes accuracy from different angles,” so the system can determine if there is a problem and “provide adequate driver assistance at the right time,” the Swedish company says.
The cameras calculate how long the user looks at the road ahead and then decide whether their attention is focused on something other than driving.
Volvo emphasizes that there is no video data from these cameras and that they do not record images of the driver and only measure a driver’s gaze direction and head position.
Interior detection is one of the next safety limits for us…
Thomas Broberg, head of Volvo Cars Safety Center
An algorithm developed by Volvo then uses this information to detect the user’s current state and determine whether the driver is becoming overly distracted, tired, drunk or ill.
The cameras and sensor will also be able to understand whether a driver is using their cell phone or other device on the wheel. to trade.
The steering wheel also has built-in sensors to understand whether the driver has released their grip due to falling asleep or a health problem.
“Our research shows that by simply observing where the driver looks and how often and for how long their eyes are closed, we can tell a lot about the driver’s condition,” explains Emma Tivesten, a senior technical expert within the brand. Security Center.
“By basing its calculations on our research results, the detection system enables our cars to identify if the driver’s ability to drive is impaired, perhaps due to drowsiness, distraction or other causes of inattention, and to provide additional assistance in a way that best suits the situation. ‘
Thomas Broberg, head of Volvo’s Safety Centre, says interior sensing is ‘one of the next safety limits’ in the automotive sector.
The auto giant says the technology will continue to improve over time as it learns how the driver behaves.
All changes to the system are available via over-the-air software updates that can be downloaded to existing customers’ vehicles.
What happens if the system detects that a driver is asleep or sick?
If the cameras, sensor and capacitive steering wheel detect that something is out of the ordinary, it will try to warn the driver with a series of warnings.
The first will be an audible beep, followed by a ‘gentle push’, a vibration sent through the steering wheel and seat.
However, if the driver does not respond because he has fallen asleep or has become ill, the EX90 can safely stop itself, automatically activate the hazard warning flashers to warn other drivers and then call for assistance.
Volvo says this technology will help the company make significant progress towards its future goal of avoiding accidents with its cars in the future.
The lidar feature – the most advanced ever – will even be able to spot objects, animals and people hundreds of meters away, day and night. The system that powers it is packaged under a panel on the roof just behind the top of the windshield
A security package of 30 cameras, sensors, radars and lidar
In addition to monitoring the driver’s condition, the EX90 is packed with more road-analysis safety technology than any Volvo to date.
The pack of sensors, cameras, radars and a new lidar system — which uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to detect things ahead — work together to provide a “real-time view of the world” around the zero-emission SUV.
“It’s a car designed to understand you and its environment to keep you, your loved ones and others safe in traffic. It can also become smarter and more secure over time as it learns from new data and receives updates,” the company said.
The lidar function – located in a panel above the windscreen and Volvo’s most advanced ever – will even be able to spot objects, animals and people hundreds of meters away, day and night.
Volvo says it can detect pedestrians up to 250 meters away and something as small and dark as a tire on a black road 120 meters away, even if the car is traveling at speeds on the highway.
It claims the suite of features will reduce accidents resulting in serious injury or death by up to 20 percent.
It also expects the technology to improve “overall crash avoidance” by up to nine percent, which could prevent “millions of accidents over time” in what it calls a “big step in safety and for humanity.”
“The development of our latest safety technology is based on understanding human behaviour, rooted in decades of our own and others’ safety research,” says Volvo.
“All of us will likely experience or be affected by at least one car accident in our lifetime.
“That’s not a judgment: we know you’re usually a great driver, alert and ready to intervene if needed. But we are all human, and that also means experiencing emotions.
“We know that distraction and fatigue are facts of life and that they travel with us. We know you may not always be your best for whatever reason. And in traffic, it only takes a few seconds for the unthinkable to happen.
“So our goal is to help you become a better driver and reduce the risk of an accident.
“The Volvo EX90 comes with an invisible safety shield that incorporates our latest sensor technology, allowing the car to understand your state of mind and the world around you.”