We all think we're competent drivers, but we also know that even the best among us make mistakes from time to time. Sometimes we become distracted, stressed, tired, or enter another state that impairs our ability to drive. And, if we aren't quite at the top, a helping hand may be required.
To accomplish our goal of a collision-free future, we must examine everything that causes them. Traditionally, Volvo has focused on getting our automobiles to comprehend what is happening around them so they can help safeguard the people within.
To learn more about how to protect people, we must think in new ways - we must increase the car's awareness of the driver's state.
"That is why, on November 9, 2022, we will make our driver understanding system standard in our next all-electric SUV, the Volvo EX90." A simple idea guides this real-time internal sensor system: if a Volvo can detect when the driver is not reacting adequately to driving, it can intervene to prevent accidents.
The new driver understanding system makes its debut in the Volvo EX90 electric SUV, complementing the superior exterior sensor system, which is also featured in the future vehicle.
"Our research demonstrates that simply monitoring where the driver is looking and how frequently and for how long their eyes are closed may tell us a lot about the driver's condition," explains Emma Tivesten, senior technical expert at the Volvo Cars Safety Center.
"By basing its calculations on our study findings, the sensor system enables our cars to assess whether the driver's performance is reduced - whether owing to exhaustion, distraction, or the influence of alcohol - to provide more assistance most appropriately."
The new Volvo EX90 electric SUV can detect early indications indicating whether the driver is not quite on top by using two cameras that observe the driver's look patterns. The technology understands when the driver's eyes, and maybe his mind, focus on something other than driving by measuring how much time the driver looks ahead.
Is the driver paying too little attention to the road? It could indicate that the individual is visually distracted by their phone. Is it too much? It could be a sign of cognitive distraction, which means the driver is so absorbed with his thoughts that what he's looking at isn't registered - or that the motorist is under liquor or medications.
The touch-sensitive steering wheel in the car also plays a role. It detects when the driver takes their hands off the steering wheel and monitors the stability of their steering input.
The new Volvo EX90 electric SUV will be able to take appropriate precautions to aid the driver when necessary by using our unique algorithms for real-time recognition of gaze patterns and steering behavior. Help can begin with a modest warning signal that grows in power in proportion to the gravity of the situation. If the driver fails to respond to the growing warning signs, the car can safely stop at the side of the road and warn other road users using its hazard warning lights.
"Thanks to our focused work with collision avoidance systems, we have made considerable development in external sensor technology in recent decades," says Thomas Broberg, Acting Head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. "One of our next safety areas will be interior sensors. As our expertise grows and evolves, we will continue to study, create, and adopt new features step by step to help improve safety."