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A Future Free Of Car Crashes?

By raccars Published

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How far can car safety technology go? According to Volvo, all the way... the Swedish firm is working flat out on an ambitious plan to make sure that no deaths or serious injuries occur to any Volvo occupant by 2020.

Volvo's obsession with safety is nothing new - and is all to the firm's credit. Already, Volvo is responsible for a number of the safety features we take for granted in modern motoring - vehicle safety cages, three point seat belts and rear facing child seats, for example. As part of its current zero fatalities objective, the company has been utilising a unique new facility near the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

AstaZero (Active Safety Test Area: Zero fatalities) is designed to help manufacturers develop and trial active safety features, which are those that help cars avoid collisions. These include systems such as autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning. However, the AstaZero team hope that the facility will be able to develop its uses, to include research into and testing of ever more sophisticated restraint equipment, such as seatbelts and crumple zones.

The £42 million facility was funded by the EU and a number of Swedish agencies, including surprise surprise, Volvo itself. Its budget will be £76 million annually, provided by partners and supporters. The facility can be hired by auto manufacturer and parts suppliers, academics and research and development agencies. While the site is unique at the moment, Daimler is working on a similar facility in southern Germany, which it hopes to have open in 2017.

Volvo accepts that its zero fatalities plan is a big ask. While it is focusing its ambitions around autonomous driving with the aim of eliminating human error, the main cause of road accidents, the company is going for a multi pronged approach, by looking also at better passive safety features in the form of stronger body shells and more sophisticated seatbelts and airbags.

The AstaZero testing ground forms a key part of Volvo's testing regime. The firm plans to have its new XC90 SUV model, due to be launched next year, capable of recognising and avoiding such hazards as large animals in the road, even if the driver does not react.

The XC90 will not be alone. All of the major manufacturers are working on their own technology to act as the eyes, ears and even the minds of human drivers. Soon we will be able to take it for granted that our cars will be able to correct skidding, prevent us from driving into another vehicle's path and brake in an emergency.

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