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Volvo Cars paves the way for improved safety by studying driver behaviour in Chinese megacities


The China-Sweden Research Centre for Traffic Safety (CTS), with Volvo Car Group in a leading role, is now starting a close-up study of driving behaviour in the Chinese megacities Beijing and Shanghai. The insight into how drivers handle these exceptionally busy traffic environments is an important part of Volvo Cars’ aim to develop safety systems that help drivers all over the world to avoid accidents.


“The development of all our world-leading safety technologies is based on knowledge from real-life traffic. The field operational test in China will provide us with a valuable insight into the behaviour of drivers in an intense environment with a very high rate of accidents and casualties. The study will also document how our present safety and driver support systems work in a Chinese context,” says John-Fredrik Grönvall, Manager Traffic Accident Research at Volvo Cars Safety Centre.

China FOT – studying driving behaviour in Chinese megacities

The Midsize Naturalistic Driving FOT in China (China FOT) is a joint effort by Volvo Cars, the Chinese Ministry of Transport's Research Institute of Highway (RIOH), Tongji University, Chalmers University of Technology and the Swedish companies ÅF Technologies and Autoliv.


Four of the participants – Volvo Cars, RIOH, Tongji University and Chalmers University of Technology – are also partners of the recently opened China-Sweden Research Centre for Traffic Safety in Beijing, China.


“The respect for Volvo’s safety knowledge and the Swedish Vision Zero is growing here in China. The China FOT is the third traffic safety project we have initiated during the last year and, all in all, we now have 40 researchers involved. Our experienced Chinese partners RIOH and Tongji University inject unique knowledge about the local traffic conditions into our projects,” says Hans Nyth, Head of China-Sweden Research Centre for Traffic Safety.


Car-integrated cameras and sensors

The ten Volvo S60Ls in the China FOT project will be equipped with a number of cameras that monitor the driver and the surrounding traffic. Information is also collected from the car-integrated sensors in the safety and driver support systems. This means that every little incident and situation can be studied and evaluated. The drivers have signed a consent form, to agree to be filmed.


Starting in May 2014, a large number of real customers in Beijing and Shanghai will drive the cars during a ten-month test period. The collected material, approx. 5 terabytes of data from about 100,000 km of driving, will be analysed during 2015.


So far, the most extensive field operational tests have been carried out in the United States and Europe. Volvo Cars was also one of the partners in the recently completed Euro FOT study.


“The baseline behaviour of a driver is pretty much the same wherever you go in the world. However, the culture and the specific traffic environment are local factors that influence vital behaviours, such as how you take and avoid risks in intense city traffic. This is one of our main focus areas in the China FOT study,” says John-Fredrik Grönvall.

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