Volvo has already been bragging about how the XC90 will be the world's cleanest and most powerful SUV. Now it is touting the all-wheel drive, seven-seater's safety features, which will include an auto brake at intersections function and a run-off road protection package – both of which Volvo claims are world firsts.
Volvo says that road departure accidents are responsible for half of all traffic fatalities in the US, while in Sweden, one third of all fatal and severe injury crashes with passenger cars are single-vehicle accidents, with fatigue, distraction or poor road and weather conditions often playing a role. In an effort to reduce this statistic, Volvo has developed a run-off road protection package that is designed to help keep drivers from leaving the road and protecting them if the do.
To help keep drivers on the road, that package includes Lane Keeping Aid, which applies extra torque to the steering wheel when a camera in the car detects that it is about to leave the lane unintentionally. This is combined with Driver Alert Control, which also uses the camera to detect if the driver is tired or inattentive. A five-bar indicator displays the current level of driver alertness and, if it drops below a certain level, sounds an alert and displays a message recommending the driver stop for a break. The Rest Stop Guidance feature will even direct the driver to the nearest rest stop.
To better protect the driver in the event they do leave the road, the Safe Positioning system tightens the front seat belts to better secure the occupants for any impending impact. To further protect passengers, energy absorbing material was added between the seat frames and seat to minimize spinal injuries, a significant issue consistent with these types of accidents.
The second of the XC90’s "world first" safety features essentially takes over braking duties at intersections should the driver inadvertently turn into the path of an oncoming car. Volvo says this scenario plays out far too often on narrow inner city streets where larger vehicles may block driver views or on highways where faster traveling vehicles are difficult to see.
"These two world-firsts are further examples of how new technologies target substantial real-life traffic problems,” says Prof. Lotta Jakobsson, Senior Technical Specialist Safety at Volvo Cars Safety Centre. "This strategy moves us closer and closer to our ambition that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo."
In addition to these two safety features that will be included as standard on the XC90, the vehicle also boasts numerous others. These include; queue assist, which takes over acceleration, braking and steering when following vehicles in slow moving traffic; pre-crash protection in rear impacts, which tightens the seat belts, starts the lights flashing and applies the brakes when rear-facing radars detect an imminent rear impact; and roll stability control, which restricts engine torque and applies braking force to one or more of the wheels when the risk of rollover is detected.
The new XC90 will be revealed in its entirety next month.