Volvo aim for Greater Safety and a Crash Free Future
INTRODUCING NEW SCALABLE PRODUCT ARCHITECTURE
We all know that Volvo have a reputation for great safety when it comes to their cars, but now they are trying to make even this reputation better with the introduction of Volvo Car Group’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) which allows the company to boast that their aim of ensuring that, by 2020, no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo, is achievable – and likely.
In fact, recent independent data from STRADA (Swedish Traffic Accident Data Acquisition) has shown that, when compared to the average modern vehicle in Sweden, modern Volvos have close to 60% lower injury rates; and all this in a country that has one of the lowest injury rates in the world.
It’s an impressive claim, but there is no doubting that the new SPA architecture enables Volvo to make significant improvements when it comes to not only making sure that drivers (and their passengers) are fully protected in worst-case scenarios but also creating innovative features and technology that help those drivers actually avoid accidents.
“We retain our uncompromising attitude to offering superior crash protection,” says Jan Ivarsson, Senior Manager, Safety Strategy and Requirements at Volvo Cars. He adds: “The new architecture opens up for further improvements. Seven per cent of the safety cage in the original XC90 was made of hot-formed boron steel. The structure in the upcoming all-new XC90 features over 40 per cent hot-formed steel, which translates into significantly improved strength but without adding mass or weight.”
Inside the new architecture you’ll find an electrical section that can only be described as “ground-breaking” in that it is designed to make it a lot easier to add in new technology as and when it comes along – and by that we are talking microprocessors, sensors and cameras; all of which Volvo claim will “elevate the car’s intelligence level significantly.”
This is because the electrical architecture is actually made up of a network with four domain masters – vehicle dynamics, safety, car body and infotainment – each of which is connected to every single other unit which allows one master control to reign over each individual part of the operation; “unique in the industry,” says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development at Volvo Cars.
You see, with Scalable Product Architecture, the driver is at the epicentre of everything with a 360° control and technology cushioning the driver to putting him or her in contact with the world.
It all sounds a bit sci-fi, but the whole essence of everything is that with SPA, the driver is assured of safety whatever the situation, with safety belts, pre-tensioners, whiplash protection system, airbags and inflatable curtains continuously being enhanced with the aim of absorbing energy before it reaches the driver and passenger. One example of this is the inclusion in new SPA constructed Volvo cars of a rearward-facing radar that can detect an impact from behind which automatically tightens safety belts pre-impact to protect driver and passengers,
In fact, all around the cars you will find that camera, radar and sensor technologies have been improved to “detect more objects around the car and to offer support at higher speeds and in more situations, such as at crossings.” It even includes a measure of detection for large animals (maybe not that much use in elk-free Britain) and technology to improve conditions when driving in the dark.
Jan Ivarsson thinks that this is important: “One of the most important focus areas within collision-avoidance is to help prevent unintentional road departures by autonomous steering intervention in critical situations. Unintentional road departure is the collision type that results in most deaths and serious injuries in modern traffic.”
Add in Adaptive Cruise Control with steer assist, that automatically instructs the car to follow the vehicle ahead in queues, and the adaptability of the SPA cars when it comes to the new technology, and you can see why Volvo are making a song and dance about the Scalable Product Architecture.
“Allowing the car to act automatically is crucial when moving towards the vision that future cars will not crash at all. The technologies enabled by our new Scalable Product Architecture will bring us significantly closer to this ultimate goal,” concludes Jan Ivarsson.
And all this without mentioning that the new patented SPA safety cage, with its mix of different steel grades and use of boron steel beyond its normal use, makes the car stronger and smarter.
That’s nice to know though too!