The Swedish engineers at Volvo now claim that their formerly “boxy-but-safe” automobiles will soon be death proof!
By 2020, they claim, no one will again suffer a fatality or even be seriously injured one of their new Volvo vehicles!
Fatality-free vehicles are not unprecedented. In fact, some already exist, and they're not just Volvos. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are nine (9) vehicle models in which no one in the United States has died in at least four years.
Much of that is safety related technology like seat belts, air bags and antilock brakes. A martial artist will tell you, no one is hurt in a fight that is avoided. Likewise, crash avoidance is the order of the day.
Most of the technology that's required for autonomous driving is already available from Volvo and other carmakers. These are newer technologies that they promise will, essentially, make it “crash-proof.”
Pedestrian and large animal protections: Night vision cameras alert the driver to the drunk in the road, or the suicidal deer. In some models, the car will apply the brakes if you do not.
Adaptive Cruise: Adaptive cruise control is basically distance-sensing radar that allows you to program a speed that is then safely maintained by the car itself. The system does not allow you to run up on the vehicle ahead of you. There are some systems that work the same way even without the cruise engaged.
Lane Departure: The car with this system can see lane lines and road edges. Your seat vibrates to warn you to correct before you run off the road. Newer models actually steer back independently. (This feature frightens me a bit).
Autonomous Cars: Many makers, including Volvo, have announced fully autonomous cars will be in showrooms by 2020. These can be summoned by a phone to come to you and pick you up. No driver will be needed.
Those born today may the last generation to experience the following:
1. Getting a driver license.
2. Driving a stick shift.
3. Riding a bus to school driven by a person.
4. Traffic deaths killing several of their friends before age 25.
5. Having a wreck.
6. Getting a ticket.
That machines are here to stay. Soon, they will be here to pick you up.