Volvo has announced plans to fit its cars with cameras that can detect drunk or distracted drivers and take action to stop them driving.
Following its recent announcement that all its new cars will be limited to 112mph from 2020, the Swedish firm said it was now working towards tackling other “gaps” in its ambition to eliminate deaths in its vehicles.
From the early 2020s Volvo cars will be fitted with cameras and sensors that will monitor the driver’s behaviour and actions and intervene if it determines that they are drunk or distracted.
If they don’t respond to warning signals and are risking an accident involving “serious injury or death” the car will be able to limit its speed, alert the Volvo On Call assistance service and, as a last resort, bring the car to a stop.
Avoiding accidents altogether
“When it comes to safety, our aim is to avoid accidents altogether rather than limit the impact when an accident is imminent and unavoidable,” said Henrik Green, senior vice president of research and development. “In this case, cameras will monitor for behaviour that may lead to serious injury or death.”
Behaviour that would trigger interventions include a complete lack of steering input for extended periods of time, drivers who are detected to have their eyes closed or off the road for extended periods of time, as well as extreme weaving across lanes or excessively slow reaction times.
An estimated 290 people were killed in drink drive-related crashes on Britain’s roads in 2017.
Figures from the US also show that almost 30 per cent of all traffic fatalities in vehicles in 2017 involved intoxicated drivers.
The latest cameras and the speed limit technology are part of Volvo’s Vision 2020 ambition to cut road deaths. It says that the aim of its latest announcements is to show what car makers can do to influence driver behaviour and begin a debate about whether they have a right or obligation to do so.
Volvo is not the first company to propose a car that will stop if it detects a drunk driver. Last year Chinese firm Huawei revealed plans for an autonomous car that would also use cameras and sensors to detect drunk “controllers” and report them to police.