High-tech for Volvo S80, V70, XC70

Auto-braking, adaptive cruise control and alerts for tailgating, lane departure and poor driving to be added by year's end.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read
Coffee break warning signal
Volvo's Driver Alert lets you know when your driving skills wane and it's time for a coffee break. Volvo Car

Five new high-tech features will be available on Volvo's S80, V70 and XC70 models by the end of the year, the company announced Tuesday.

The Swedish company joins the ranks of several automakers who are bringing high-tech features to even the most budget models.

Volvo's most interesting feature may be a new take on monitoring driver behavior.

Driver Alert Control, as Volvo calls it, uses a camera and sensors to monitor a car's general behavior in terms of speed and staying in lane, not the driver's behavior within a cockpit. If, through a combination of factors, it calculates poor driving the car will sound a beep and flash a coffee cup on screen to remind the driver to take a break.

Adaptive cruise control, as with most cars, allows the driver to set a speed range and desired distance from the next car. The system then self-regulates speed based on those parameters.

Volvo also includes a distant alert feature that will additionally give a warning if the driver is tailgating while not in adaptive cruise control mode.

An updated version of the collision warning system Volvo released in 2006 will now automatically brake if the driver does not react in time after being given a warning. The car uses a combination of radar and camera to determine imminent crashing with other objects.

A feature to help prevent drifting into other lanes or changing lanes without warning other drivers, which Volvo says is the cause of a quarter of all accidents in the U.S., has also been added.

Volvo's lane departure warning system uses a camera to track road markings and sound an alarm when drivers depart their lane without signaling. The system differs from the BMW and Audi lane departure warning systems that vibrate the steering wheel to mimic the feeling of rumble strips when drivers drift out of lane.

News of the high-tech feature availability follows Volvo's announcement that its 2008 C30 turbo diesel "Efficiency" model will get 52 miles per gallon.