Big Brother comes to cars
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Volvo has always been synonymous with car safety, and today it revealed its latest advances in technology it will introduce to the market in the next few years that it hopes will end road deaths in its cars.
The Swedish firm, now owned by Chinese giant Geely, will fit all new models from early 2020 with cameras to monitor driver reaction to determine if they're drunk or distracted behind the wheel - and bring the vehicle safely to a stop if it thinks the driver is intoxicated.
It will also offer customers a new 'Care Key' from 2021, which allow them to set a maximum top speed for the vehicle when they lend it to younger members of their family or friends.
This follows an announcement earlier this month that all Volvos from 2020 will have a restricted top speed of 112mph as the car maker looks to step-up efforts to reduce driving fatalities.
Volvo says it will equip all its next-generation models with on-board cameras and sensors to measure how alert the individual at the wheel is.
It will monitor driving behaviour and intervene if it determines if the user is unfit to be at the wheel.
Sensors will be able to check if the motorist has driven for an extended period of time without any steering control, are weaving across lanes and are slow to respond to alerts on the dashboard.
Cameras mounted behind the windscreen will also measure if the driver is not looking at the road or have their eyes closed completely.
If the car detects that a driver might be drunk, fatigued or in any other way unfit to drive it can intervene in an effort to prevent an accident.
In extreme cases, the car will be able to activate a semi-autonomous mode taking the control away from the motorist and driving itself to a safe location and parking up.
Depending on the likelihood of the driver crashing, the system will be able to takes responsive measures to prevent or at least mitigate a collision.
This ranges from alerting the brand's 'On Call' assistance service so a member from their call centre can speak to the driver to limiting the car's speed or, in the most extreme cases, actively taking control of the vehicle away from the user and safely parking itself using semi-autonomous technology.
This is one of three recent announcements by the brand as part of its Vision 2020 safety pledge in which it aims to eliminate road accident fatalities in Volvo cars by next year.
'When it comes to safety, our aim is to avoid accidents altogether rather than limit the impact when an accident is imminent and unavoidable,' said Henrik Green, senior vice president of research and development at Volvo.
'In this case, cameras will monitor for behaviour that may lead to serious injury or death.'
The news follows on from Volvo's recent announcement that every new car it produces from 2020 will be limited to a top speed of 180 kp/h.
At the same time, the brand also confirmed that all cars sold from 2021 will also have a new 'Care Key' with additional speed limits.
This is an extra spare key for the vehicle that can have a pre-loaded lower top speed activated for the car when this specific fob is in use.
That means owners of Volvos will be able to lend their vehicles to their teenage children who might have only recently passed their test in the knowledge that they can go no faster than a top speed determined by the parent.