Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Road Haulage and Private Motoring Made Safer by Volvo

New Swedish facility to Test Modern Active Technology
Shipping News Feature

SWEDEN – You have to hand it to the truck and car manufacturer, when it comes to safety Volvo takes the subject very seriously and the group has unveiled the latest investment to try and make the world’s of road haulage and private motoring a safer place. It was announced today that the financing has been secured for the new testing facility in Hällered, adjacent to the test track that Volvo has been operating there for several years. The new facility is primarily for the testing of new traffic-safety solutions.

The focus is on active safety – technical solutions that assist the driver in avoiding accidents. Such systems are already in existence today, for example, antiskid systems, systems that maintain the distance from the vehicle in front and systems that detect vehicles in the blind spot – but this is only the beginning. Torbjörn Holmström, the Group’s Chief Technology Officer, explains:

“This is where we will be able to test the intelligent safety systems that we are currently developing, which will bring us closer to our goal of the Volvo Group’s products resulting in zero accidents. Volvo Group’s engineers are developing the next generation of intelligent systems to assist the driver and this new technology is primarily based on vehicles being able to communicate with each other and the surroundings. The technology will help drivers to keep a check on other vehicles, traffic lights and road works, for example.”

However, as with all new technologies, extensive testing is required in sheltered environments before tests can be conducted in real traffic situations. The new testing facility in Hällered will comprise many of the traffic environments that are of interest to the Volvo Group. It involves simulating such conditions as monotonous driving on national roads with the sudden appearance of obstacles, city environments with both vehicle and human dummies and multilane roads with many vehicles. In addition, long vehicle combinations can be subjected to highly demanding manoeuvres – all for the purpose of developing even more effective protection against roll-over accidents.

The current site at Hällered lacks a number of these testing environments making the new facility essential which will be built and maintained by the company, Active Safety Test Area AB (ASTA) under the brand AstaZero. The ASTA company is owned by the Chalmers University of Technology and the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. The Volvo Group and other companies in the vehicle industry will then pay for the time they utilize the testing facility which it is proposed will open in 2014. Torbjörn Holmström continues:

“Cooperation of this type, between the public sector, research world and companies is becoming ever more important. With our combined resources, we will have the greatest possibility of finding solutions to problems in society today. Thanks to the new testing facility for active safety, we will be able to contribute to reducing the number of traffic accidents.”