Volvo's Smart Cars Share Icy Road Alerts

Illustration: Volvo

Most drivers have to fight icy patches during bad winter weather by themselves. Swedish carmaker Volvo envisions a different world where cars share information with one another about slippery road conditions—and it’s building a roving swarm of 1000 smart cars to test the idea.

Volvo’s test fleet of cars would rely upon a cloud-based network to share information about driving conditions. If one car encounters an icy patch, it could transmit a slippery-road warning broadcast to other cars in the fleet. Another car that might have to stop and put on its hazard lights would also automatically broadcast its location to nearby vehicles. Those two features serve as first steps toward a grander vision for Volvo.

“This will bring us closer to our safety vision that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car,” said Erik Israelsson, project leader of the Cooperative Intelligent Transport System at Volvo Cars, in a press release.

The cloud-based warning system could also alert public officials about where they need to tackle winter road maintenanceVolvo Cars is working on the new project with the Swedish Transport Administration and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.

Part of the project involves Volvo boosting its current test fleet of 50 cars to 1000 cars. The carmaker plans to deploy the test fleet to Gothenburg in Sweden and Oslo in Norway to see how the system fares in deep winter conditions.

Volvo also plans to test other concepts for communicating road safety alerts through cloud-based networks. A separate warning system aims to alert both car drivers and bicycle riders in case of impending collision so that both can take action.

That’s all well and good as long as human drivers remain behind the wheel. But Volvo, like Google, also wants to test autonomous vehicle technologies that could potentially react much faster to dangerous situations than any human. For instance, Volvo’s engineers are developing trucks that can automatically take over the steering or brakes to avoid accidents. A separate fleet of Volvo cars is also testing self-driving robot car technology on the streets of Gothenburg.

Advertisement

Cars That Think

IEEE Spectrum’s blog about the sensors, software, and systems that are making cars smarter, more entertaining, and ultimately, autonomous.
Contact us:  p.ross@ieee.org

Senior Editor
Philip E. Ross
New York City
Assistant Editor
Willie D. Jones
New York City
 
Senior Writer
Evan Ackerman
Berkeley, Calif.
Contributor
Lucas Laursen
Madrid
 

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Cars That Think newsletter and get biweekly updates, all delivered directly to your inbox.

Robotics

Smart cars that can tell when you're bored to death

From Automaton correspondent Sally Adee:

sandia_smart_car_test_drive_eeg_hat.jpg
Sandia researchers Chris Forsythe and a companion, fitted with EEG caps, test drive a "smart vehicle" that can read their brain activity. Photo: Sandia If driving next to a semi truck makes you nervous, you're not alone. Reports are all over the news about how many incentives truck drivers get to push through sleep-deprivation and other impediments. They drive long, monotonous routes with little stimulation, and the results are sometimes fatal. And it's not always because the driver is distractedâ''researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque, N.M., …

Computing

Smart Cars: Coming to a Showroom Near You

The New York Times this week had an article on smart cars and how one will "soon" be in a showroom near you. It quotes Dr. Sebastian Thrun, a computer scientist who heads up Stanford's Artificial Intelligence Lab, as saying, "Within five years, itâ''s totally feasible to build an autonomous car that will work reliably in several limited domains." Furthermore, the article says, "In 20 years, Dr. Thrun figures half of new cars sold will offer drivers the option of turning over these chores to a computer, but he acknowledges thatâ''s just an educated guess. While …

Advertisement