Crowning 80 Years of Volvo Safety Solutions
In addition to the latest innovations such as City Safety, Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) and a further developed DSTC system, the Volvo XC60 is available with all the accident-avoidance and proactive safety technologies that Volvo Cars offers today.
Holistic view is a cornerstone
In 1927 Volvo's founders Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larson stated, "Cars are driven by people. Therefore the guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo is - and must remain - safety."
Since then Volvo Cars has introduced a number of groundbreaking technologies. The three-point seat belt from 1959 remains the single most effective lifesaver on the road today. Over the years, Volvo's cars have been equipped with an increasingly longer list of safety solutions - from crumple zones, safety cages, airbags and whiplash protection, to systems for dynamic stability and driving control.
However, it's the interaction between the various safety systems and functions, not the individual components that determines just how safe a car is. In a Volvo, safety is the result of a complete, integrated solution. This holistic view has from the very outset been a cornerstone of the Volvo Cars safety philosophy, and it remains very much a cornerstone today.
Focusing on the driver
Volvo Cars' development of safety solutions is based on three main approaches: the car, the traffic environment and the human being. The driver needs to be alert and have the ability to take quick decisions in stressful situations, which is often easier said than done.
"We focus on technologies that help the driver observe critical situations and avoid collisions. Traffic accidents should not be regarded as unavoidable," says Jonas Ekmark, manager of Preventive Safety at the Volvo Cars Safety Center. "With the right technology, we can give the driver the support needed to help avoid accidents."
Five Phase Analysis and development
With the aim of creating as sound basis as possible for the continuous development of safety technology from a human perspective, Volvo Cars is involved in far-reaching research based on real-life traffic situations. The Volvo Cars model and methodology for accident analysis means an extension of the traditional approach to traffic accident research by focusing on the entire sequence, divided into five phases - from non-conflict to post crash. Based on these phases, the company develops and enhances its safety solutions - all of which are now incorporated into the new Volvo XC60.
Phase 1: Non-Conflict
In the first phase, the foundation is laid for helping avoidance of critical situations. In Volvo's cars it is a basic requirement that the driver must always have good visibility and that the chassis, engine, brakes and steering together give the driver the best possible control over the vehicle. The driver and passenger in-car environment is another important factor that affects the wellbeing and attentiveness. Helping the driver to not use the vehicle after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is yet another way of avoiding an accident. In addition, Volvo has recently developed a range of new technologies that help the driver maintain focus on the road.
Phase 2: Conflict
A critical situation is imminent: The car might be about to skid or the driver may (without realizing) be speeding towards a vehicle that is at a standstill. In these and other situations, preventive safety functions can step in to stabilize the car or alert the driver. This gives the driver a better safety margin.
Phase 3: Avoidance/Mitigation
An accident is about to happen - the car in front may be so close that severe braking is essential. Some of Volvo's preventive safety functions can step in and respond if the driver can no longer avoid the collision. However, it's important to note that new preventive safety technologies do not relieve the driver from the primary responsibility of driving.
Phase 4: Crash
What is important in this phase is to minimize the injuries to the cars' occupants. Volvos are designed to offer occupants excellent collision protection with safety belts, pre-tensioners, airbags, inflatable curtains and a strong safety cage. All in all, these advanced safety technologies help make a Volvo one of the safest cars in its class. At the same time, every Volvo is designed to be as gentle as possible on the occupants of other cars and on unprotected road-users.
Phase 5: Post Crash
Volvo has many years of experience examining and following up on actual accidents involving Volvo cars. In order to extend the analysis to the chain of events that happens moments before the collision, Volvo Cars supplements its own statistics with external detailed studies and reconstructions of chains of events. The collective knowledge generated is later used in the development of new Volvo safety technology.
Volvo Cars' Traffic Accident Research Team
Volvo Cars' Traffic Accident Research Team traces its roots to the 1960s. A few years after Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin invented the three-point seat belt and Volvo Cars had introduced it as standard in front seats, a comprehensive survey was carried out of the seat belt's injury-reducing effect.
The survey, which was carried out in 1966, encompassed all cases of injury in Sweden that involved a Volvo covering a period of one year. The results indicated that the seat belt reduced injury frequency by 50 percent. Volvo realized then that detailed knowledge about what actually happens with the vehicle and its occupants in a collision is valuable in the product development process. A decision was made in 1970 to establish the company's own Traffic Accident Research Team, which has worked continuously since then. Over the past 38 years, Volvo Cars' own traffic accident research unit has collected data from more than 36,000 accidents. This information has resulted in an invaluable contribution both to Volvo's own safety work and to traffic accident research in general.
The Volvo Cars Safety Center
In order to offer vehicles with world-class safety, Volvo Cars regards it as essential to ensure that the safety systems used cover every size of occupant, across a wide range of speeds and a broad spectrum of collision scenarios. For this reason 100-120 crash tests are performed with each new car model at the Volvo Cars Safety Center. Before the car even exists as a prototype it has been crashed several thousands of times in virtual simulators. This unique facility in Göteborg opened in 2000 and is among the most advanced centers of its kind. The tests form a highly effective complement to the experiences gained from accident research in the field.
Volvo Cars' Safety milestones
1944 Safety cage
1944 Laminated windscreen
1959 Three-point seat belts in the front
1960 Padded instrument panel
1964 Prototype of the first rear-facing child seat is tested in a Volvo
1966 Twin-circuit triangular (three-wheel) backup braking system
1966 Crumple zones
1967 Seat belts in the rear
1968 Head restraints front
1969 Three-point inertia-reel seat belts in the front
1970 Volvo Cars' Traffic Accident Research Team established
1972 Three-point seat belts in the rear
1972 Rear-facing child seat and child-proof door locks
1972 Volvo Experimental Safety Car (VESC)
1973 Energy-absorbing steering column
1974 Energy-absorbing bumpers
1974 Gas tank relocated for enhanced safety
1978 Child booster cushion for children
1982 Under-run protection
1982 Door mirrors of wide-angle type
1984 ABS, anti-locking brakes
1986 Brake lights at eye level
1986 Three-point seat belt in the middle of the rear seat
1987 Seat belt pre-tensioner
1987 Driver's airbag
1990 Integrated booster cushion for children
1991 SIPS, side impact collision protection
1991 Automatic height adjustment of front seat belts
1993 Three-point inertia-reel seat belt in all the seats
1994 SIPS, side-impact airbags
1997 ROPS, Roll-Over Protection System convertible (C70)
1998 WHIPS, protection against whiplash injuries
1998 IC, inflatable curtain,
1998 DSTC, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control
2000 Volvo Cars Safety Center inaugurated in Göteborg
2000 ISOFIX attachments for child seats
2000 Two-stage airbag
2000 Volvo On Call safety system
2000 Volvo Cars Safety Center new crash laboratory inaugurated
2001 Volvo Safety Concept Car (SCC)
2002 RSC, Roll Stability Control
2002 ROPS, Roll-Over Protection System SUV (XC90)
2002 Lower cross-member at the front - protection system for oncoming cars
2002 Development of virtual "pregnant" crash-test dummy
2003 IDIS, intelligent system for driver information
2003 Patented new structure at the front reduces collision forces
2004 BLIS, system for information about the blind spot offset rear
2004 DMIC, door-mounted side airbag for convertibles
2005 Volvo's co-driver-system
2005 Multi Lock, combined alcolock and lock for the seat belt and key for speed restriction (research project)
2006 ACC, Adaptive Cruise Control
2006 Personal Car Communicator (PCC)
2006 Collision warning with brake support
2006 Active Bi-Xenon headlamps
2007 Integrated two-stage child booster cushion
2007 CWAB, Collision Warning with Auto Brake
2007 Driver Alert
2007 Lane Departure Warning
2007 Alcoguard (currently not available in the U.S.)
2008 Pre-Prepared Restraints
2008 City Safety, low speed collision avoidance