Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, believes governments and car makers should join hands in sharing traffic data to improve global traffic safety, Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive, told a conference at the European Commission in Brussels on Monday.
Sharing anonymised data related to traffic safety in real time can provide a strong boost to overall traffic safety while safeguarding the privacy of individual road users, Mr Samuelsson said. Volvo started doing exactly this in Sweden and Norway two years ago, in collaboration with local authorities.
“We think this type of data sharing should be done for free, for the greater good and to the wider benefit of society. It saves lives, time and taxpayer money”, Mr Samuelsson said. “I call on other car makers and governments to work with us on realising this type of data sharing as widely as possible.”
In 2015, Volvo Cars started a collaboration on sharing safety data with the road administration authorities in Sweden and Norway. Via a cloud-based network, all Volvo cars in a certain area share anonymised information about road friction from their anti-skid systems. The information is transferred in real time to other Volvo drivers, notifying them of icy road conditions. The same information will be shared with road administrations so they can quickly address the icy conditions.
The same approach is used to warn drivers when another vehicle turns on its hazard lights, which may indicate a potential dangerous situation on the road ahead. These technologies – Slippery Road Alert and Hazard Light Alert – are standard on all SPA-based vehicles on sale in Sweden and Norway: the XC90, S90, V90, V90 Cross Country and the new XC60.
Mr Samuelsson’s comments were made at the ‘1st European Conference on Connected and Automated Driving’ in Brussels, where he also underlined the need to put safety first when developing a regulatory framework for autonomous cars. When it comes to autonomous driving, it is important that the user interface is crystal clear about the role of the driver, he noted.
Mr Samuelsson expressed his concern about the so-called Level 3 autonomous driving modes. “In this mode, the car is in charge of the driving, yet the driver must still be prepared to take over in case of emergency, which could be a matter of a few seconds. Volvo considers this Level 3 driving mode unsafe and will thus skip this level of autonomous driving,” Mr Samuelsson said.
Consequently, when Volvo launches its first autonomous cars in 2021, they will be at Level 4 – in other words, completely unsupervised on applicable roads. This means that these cars will be able to manage emergency situations and bring the car into a safe state by itself without driver interaction and that Volvo will assume liability while the car is in autonomous mode.
Volvo Car Group in 2016
For the 2016 financial year, Volvo Car Group recorded an operating profit of 11,014 MSEK (6,620 MSEK in 2015). Revenue over the period amounted to 180,672 MSEK (164,043 MSEK). For the full year 2016, global sales reached a record 534,332 cars, an increase of 6.2 per cent versus 2015. The record sales and operating profit cleared the way for Volvo Car Group to continue investing in its global transformation plan.
About Volvo Car Group
Volvo has been in operation since 1927. Today, Volvo Cars is one of the most well-known and respected car brands in the world, with sales of 534,332 cars in 2016 in about 100 countries. Volvo Cars has been under the ownership of the Zhejiang Geely Holding (Geely Holding) of China since 2010. It formed part of the Swedish Volvo Group until 1999, when the company was bought by Ford Motor Company of the US. In 2010, Volvo Cars was acquired by Geely Holding.
As of December 2016, Volvo Cars had more than 31,000 employees worldwide. Volvo Cars’ head office, product development, marketing and administration functions are mainly located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Cars’ head office for China is located in Shanghai. The company’s main car production plants are located in Gothenburg (Sweden), Ghent (Belgium), Chengdu and Daqing (China), while engines are manufactured in Skövde (Sweden) and Zhangjiakou (China), and body components in Olofström (Sweden).