If you visited the LA Auto Show this week, then you’d have been a bit disappointed if you were looking to see what all the new automakers had been working on when it came to the interior of their cars, as very few of them even discussed it in the briefest of terms. Fortunately then, Volvo set itself apart by showing off what it’s new XC90 4×4 vehicle has on offer once you take a seat inside it, not least of which, was a large nine inch touchscreen.
We’ve already heard before about Volvo’s pledge to develop its vehicles to the point that by 2020, nobody in the world would be injured or killed in a new Volvo vehicle. That’s a lofty claim, but it’s already heading in the right direction, showing off some of its automated safety features that will be viewable and customisable through the new touch screen.
Pedestrian and animal detection are being twinned with autonomous emergency braking to create an environment that means, should you miss that obstruction up ahead, your car will pick it out for you and if you still don’t react quickly enough for it, it will hit the brakes and make sure you stop in time.
Unfortunately at this time, these technologies only work under 30 miles per hour, but when combined with adaptive cruise control that keeps you from hitting the car in front and prevents you going out of your lane, it should mean that if you hit a traffic jam on the motorway, you can switch on the automated features and relax with a book or look out of the window until you get up to speed again.
In the future, it’s expected that these technologies will work at far higher speeds.
Along with these safety features however, Ars reports that Volvo will, like Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto, be giving drivers access to all sorts of in-car applications that will increase its functionality. Expect new entertainment features like podcast and music streaming and WiFi hotspot creation for smartphone and tablet users.
Other small and “helpful” applications are also being considered to augment the driving experience, but for now Volvo wouldn’t be drawn on what those are. It did however explain that it had designed the dashboard to display information in two distinct areas, the “now” and the “whenever.” The former of those too is critical information that will be but an eye flick away, whereas the latter will be less important information that will be put somewhere a little less easy to view and is therefore less distracting to the driver.
The “whenever” area could also be operated by a passenger instead, where they’ll find the nine inch touchscreen, which essentially doubles as a small tablet, offering all sorts of customisation controls, applications and functions. Combined with physical buttons for other controls, it should be fully featured.
It will be certainly interesting if Volvo’s own developments and indeed those of other automakers, will be able to compete with the technological power houses of Apple and Google, especially when those companies are likely to have much better smartphone interaction from the outset.