FUTURE ROUND THE CORNER: Volvo technology involving vehicles warning each other of road problems is involving 1000 cars. Image: Supplied.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Volvo Cars in partnership with the Swedish Transport Administration and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration are working together on a project to enable cars to tell each other about conditions that relate to road friction.
Think ice and snow... it's cold that far north.
The information will be shared through a cloud-based network - a revolutionary approach to improving traffic safety. And with the test fleet now expanding from about 50 cars to 1000, the project is moving rapidly towards its goal of making the technology available to customers in the next few years.
The project leader at Volvo Cars, Erik Israelsson, explained: "The more information that can be shared on the road the fewer surprises there will be - wen you're driving, surprises are what you most want to avoid.
"In the light of that we've developed a slippery-road alert which notifies drivers about icy patches and contributes to making winter road-maintenance more efficient. We're also adding a hazard-light alert which will tell other drivers if another vehicle in the area has its hazard lights on.
"With these first two features we have a great platform for developing additional safety features - and this is just the beginning."
The research project is getting closer to real-world implementation: with the technology in place the testing and validation phase is now about to begin. In this phase, Volvo Cars will both expand the test fleet 20-fold and broaden the test area to include two big Scandinavian cities: Gothenburg and Oslo.
Together, these measures will provide a more complete picture of how the system will work in real winter traffic. Although the system is being tested on ice, the same principles apply to various road conditions and in the future can be expanded to include elements such as oil patches and even flooding.
The slippery-road alert also sends information about icy patches to road administrators as a complement to existing measurement stations along the road. The data can help with planning winter road maintenance and quickly address changed conditions.
In addition, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration will conduct an independent assessment of the system to identify additional uses for the data in aiding future winter road maintenance.
Volvo Cars strategically invests in and initiates partnerships to create cloud-based solutions. The hazard-light and slippery-road alerts are the first safety features in the Volvo cloud. The development of sophisticated communication via the mobile network is part of the company's aim to offer its customers a fully connected experience.
Israelsson again: "In future we will have increased the exchange of vital information between vehicles and between vehicles and infrastructure. There is considerable potential, including safer traffic, a more comfortable drive and improved traffic flow.
"This will bring us closer to our safety vision that by 2020 nobody should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car."
Any Wheels24 readers have thoughts about how such inter-connectivity can help road safety. Tell us and we'll not only publish those that are worthwhile but also send them on to Volvo.