Big brother or friendly adviser? Volvo to introduce in-car driver monitoring


26 March 2019
 

Volvo Cars have always had a name for being safe. In the past this was achieved by making the cars the strongest on the road. Now Volvo’s Henrik Green, Senior Vice President, Research & Development, says, “When it comes to safety, our aim is to avoid accidents altogether rather than limit the impact when an accident is imminent and unavoidable.” 

The company has identified speed as a key contributor to fatalities, as a result, the company will be limiting the top speed on all its cars to 180kph (112mph) from model year 2021, in order to send a strong signal about the dangers of speeding. 

Intoxication and distraction are two other primary areas of concern for traffic safety. These three areas illustrate the problem of achieving zero accidents because they all involve changing or managing human behaviour. 

Volvo Cars believes intoxication and distraction should be addressed by installing in-car cameras and other sensors that monitor the driver and allow the car to intervene if a clearly intoxicated or distracted driver does not respond to warning signals and is risking an accident involving serious injury or death. 

That intervention could involve limiting the car’s speed, alerting the Volvo On Call assistance service and potentially actively slowing down and safely parking the car. 

Mr Green continued, “In this case, cameras will monitor for behaviour that may lead to serious injury or death.” 

Examples of such behaviour include a complete lack of steering input for extended periods of time, drivers who are detected to have their eyes closed or off the road for extended periods of time, as well as extreme weaving across lanes or excessively slow reaction times. 

A driver-monitoring system as described above is an important element of allowing the car to actively make decisions in order to help avoid accidents that could result in severe injuries or death. 

“There are many accidents that occur as a result of intoxicated drivers,” says Trent Victor, Professor of Driver Behaviour at Volvo Cars. “Some people still believe that they can drive after having had a drink, and that this will not affect their capabilities. We want to ensure that people are not put in danger as a result of intoxication.” 

Is the public ready to be told what to do by their cars? For that matter, will they even notice it. Most people will never allow themselves to be in this position, however we might be grateful to car technology if the car takes over from a sleeping or inattentive driver heading for an accident with us!

Introduction of the cameras on all Volvo models will start on the next generation of Volvo’s scalable SPA2 vehicle platform in the early 2020s.

 

Questions

What are Volvo’s plans?

What do you think, is this a good idea? Can it work?

Could this technology be useful in other situations?

 

Vocabulary

Find words in the text to match the definitions. Highlight below for solutions

monitoring – checking and watching

to achieve – to reach a target

to avoid – to make sure things don’t happen

imminent – about to happen

a contributor – part of what makes something happen

fatalities – deaths

intoxication – affected by alcohol or drugs

distraction – not paying attention

to intervene – to become involved in a situation

to risk – to have a chance of something negative happening

a lack of – something that is not there

 

Grammar

Identify modal verbs in the text

What function do they perform in this text? Highlight below for examples

 

… and distraction should be addressed by installing in-car …

… intervention could involve limiting the car’s speed, …

… cameras will monitor for behaviour that may lead to serious injury or death …

… that they can drive after having had a drink …

… we might be grateful to car technology …

 

More modal verb grammar notes

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