Volvo to keep eye on distracted, drunk drivers using in-vehicle cameras

New Volvos will be capped 180kph, and you can set a lower limit for your kids

New Volvos will be capped 180kph, and you can set a lower limit for your kids

Now, though, it's fleshing out that safety strategy, and that could include even tougher limits.

In addition to limiting the top speed for all drivers, Volvo Cars today also revealed the Care Key, which allows Volvo drivers to impose limitations on the car's top speed on all cars from model year 2021, before lending their vehicle to others. He added that while these actions and strategies could mean that Volvo could lose customers, it does open the door to parents who want the safest auto for their children.

The vehicle manufacturer hopes that with these precautions in place, it will keep your family or anyone else who is driving the auto safe. "The Care Key provides one good solution and extra peace of mind", he added.

Since humans tend to react best when there's a little carrot to go with the stick, Volvo has another lure for using the Care Key.

It detects intoxication by using the cameras to look at the driver's eyes while the car's own telematics analyse driving behaviour like excessive weaving and slow reactions consistent with a drunk driver. How the auto will react, however, is a tricky element. Volvo data showed women, and especially tall women, were significantly more likely to incur whiplash neck injuries in crashes than men. "In this case, cameras will monitor for behavior that may lead to serious injury or death", says Henrik Green, Senior Vice President, Research & Development at Volvo Cars. The automaker's concern is creating over-reliance on the systems, as it said happened with some drivers when anti-lock brakes and all-wheel drive were first introduced.

Volvo plans to introduce the cameras starting in 2020.

Among other things, the company plans to fit its cars based on the SPA2 chassis with cameras monitoring the physiological condition of the driver. Next, someone from Volvo On Call might get in contact, checking in on the driver.

When the cars detect an impaired driver, they could limit their top speed, alert Volvo on-call assistance and, if all else fails, take over and park the vehicle on the side of the road.

While the strategy meant Volvo, owned by China's Geely, might lose some customers keen on high speeds, it also opened opportunities to win parents who wanted to buy the safest auto to carry their children, he said.

Volvo said cameras for this safety system will be installed on new vehicles due to enter production in the early 2020s, with details on the exact amount of cameras - and their positioning in the interior - to be announced at a later date.

But CEO Hakan Samuelsson told Reuters it would take another 5 to 10 years before there was a mass takeup of such vehicles, creating a viable market to sell cars with additional safety features such as camera monitoring in the meantime.

Volvo has a huge trove of crash-test data that it can share, and it's thanks in part to those three-point belts.

It'll do that under the Volvo E.V.A.