Volvo looks set to take in-car safety into the next-generation with the release of its upcoming XC90 Luxury 4×4, introducing two new features which it’s claiming as world firsts: automatic braking in the event of turning in front of an oncoming vehicle and ‘run-off road protection.’
The first feature, is designed to prevent unnecessary collisions during busy junction crossings, where sometimes the right of way isn’t clear or due to blocked sight you can’t see another car until its too late. In either of this instances, the software will kick in and apply the brakes for you, hopefully preventing an accident or at the very least, slowing the speed with which it takes place.
The second feature can do several things to make you safer on the road. If it detects that you’ve left the road accidentally, it will tighten your seatbelt in-case you’re about to have an accident, give more torque to the steering wheel to make off-road driving a little easier and it will correct itself, much like lane-assist technologies have shown in other cars.
“It all has to do with our vision,” says Volvo Canada CEO Marc Engelen (via CBC). “This is the first step. In every new car which we launch after XC90, you will see some more safety … features, which will go to that vision.”
However, Engelen was clear to point out that as useful as many of the new safety features are, the human remains firmly in control over the vehicle. In the event of the auto-braking kicking in, the driver can press the accelerator to dis-engage the feature.
“You are the master of your own car,” he said.
These new safety features go hand in hand with traditional measures, like seat belts, a multitude of airbags and some newly devised seats, which are carefully designed to give extra spinal support in the case of an accident. There’s also a reinforced shell that protects the passengers without sacrificing crumple zones. The break pedal even retracts in the case of an accident to prevent the driver’s knee being damaged.
The final system not mentioned quite as much in Volvo’s brief, is the new blind spot information system which gives drivers more to work with. This data comes through the central dashboard screen, which can tell a driver if a vehicle is obscured behind something, preventing them from swerving into danger. There’s even a feature that gives the car’s occupants a heads up if someone is approaching quickly form behind, which can be a hazard in itself.
This is all part of an initiative Volvo has started, which promises that not a single person in cars it produces, will be seriously injured or killed by 2020.
The XC90 doesn’t have a hard release date as of yet, but is expected to debut around the world next year at around £40,000.