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New Volvo sees things that can go bump in the night

on February 14 2014 | in Industry news, Latest news, Motor shows | by | with Comments Off

Volvo will show off claimed world-first safety technology when it unveils the new XC90 SUV at the Paris motor show in September. In Volvo-speak, it’s called “road edge and barrier protection with steer assist”, a mouthful that basically means the XC90 has electronics that will stir the sleepy driver from wandering off the road. Many other carmakers use similar systems with sensors that detect lane markings. But Volvo has taken things a significant step further: its system – radar-based like the existing ‘auto brake’ – can monitor where the physical side of the road ends. That means, says European spy agency Automedia, that the technology also works on roads without side markings, like many roads in New Zealand. That’s a world first for production cars. Photographers and technical train-spotters from the agency have been running around in the Scandanavian snow checking out heavily camouflaged XC90 prototypes. They say the production model just might be the safest passenger vehicle Volvo or anyone else has ever built. The XC90 has been testing on ice roads near the Arctic Circle, where the snow is thick on the ground and road markings – apart from poles to indicate the depth of snow – are nowhere to be seen. Automedia reports that an XC90 prototype automatically steered away from snow banked up on the side of roads. Some of the banks were deep, others only centimetres high. Not only did the XC90 steer away, it instantly slowed down. The XC90 is equipped with the latest computerised radar technology that Volvo has designed to make its cars crash-proof, or ‘refuse to be steered’ into other objects. Volvo’s head of government affairs Anders Eugensson said: “The car of the future will be like the farmer’s horse – the farmer can steer the horse and carriage but if he falls asleep the horse will refuse to walk into a tree or off a cliff. Our vision is that nobody is killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020.” The Swedish carmaker – now owned by China’s Geely group – has a history of safety firsts. Take ‘Auto brake’. It automatically brings the car to a stop if the radar unit detects danger ahead in the
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form of another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist. It’s been in use at Volvo since 2008. But the XC90 will be the first vehicle to get ‘auto brake’ that works at night. Volvo calls it ‘pedestrian protection in darkness.’   • Before the new XC90 arrives at Paris, Volvo will unveil the third of its three concept cars, which show the company’s new look. The Coupe Concept appeared last year and the XC Coupe at Detroit last month. The third example is expected to be a new interpretation of a large station wagon. Expect its design to influence the new V70, due in 2015.  

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