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Volvo sees crash-free car by 2020

A promotional video by Volvo details many of the active safety technologies it has developed and is in the process of developing, all with the goal of eliminating accidents.

Volvo City Safety

In the above video, Volvo details some of the technologies it is developing in its quest toward accident-free driving. This video not only lays out Volvo's strategy, but mirrors the work other automakers are doing that will eventually result in autonomous cars.

The video begins with Thomas Broberg, Volvo's senior safety adviser, outlining six technologies that Volvo has deployed or is developing.

  • Pedestrian detection in darkness
  • Animal detection
  • Road edge and barrier detection
  • Vehicle-to-vehicle communication
  • Self parking
  • Adaptive cruise control with steer assist

Pedestrian and animal detection have been deployed as part of Volvo's City Safety System, which comes standard in the S60, XC60, XC70, and S80 models. This system automatically slams on the brakes if it calculates that a collision is imminent, and can completely prevent collisions if the car is moving at under 19 mph. Volvo boasts in a separate press release that it has already sold more than a million cars with some sort of autobraking function.

Subaru recently deployed a similar system in its Outback and Forester models.

Volvo says it will release its road edge detection technology, a first in the industry, in the 2014 XC90 model, which comes out later this year. This system can actually detect if the car is about to go off the road or hit a curb, and steer back into the roadway. The company says the system works even when road markings are nonexistent or too faded for detection.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) is a broad initiative being developed by a consortium of automakers in conjunction with government. This technology lets cars warn each other about hazards, even when the driver lacks line-of-sight view of any threats.

As for self-parking, instead of mere automatic parallel parking, Volvo is developing technology that will let the car drop off passengers, then go find an available parking space. That technology is one of the promises of autonomous cars.

Volvo Pedestrian Detection
Volvo's City Safety system can recognize pedestrians and cyclists. Volvo

Adaptive cruise control has been around for a while, but the steer assist component would add an element where the car could not only handle braking and acceleration, but also steering when driving in slow-moving traffic. Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac are at work on similar systems.

Volvo is developing these technologies under a program it calls 2020 Vision, the goal of which is to have no injuries or fatalities involving Volvo vehicles by the year 2020. But the strategy and video demonstrate the broad path the industry is taking, and show how soon much of this technology is likely to come to market.