Safety  - Overview - Volvo S80

Volvo is a renowned world leader in automotive safety, and the all-new Volvo S80 features a new generation of preventive and protective safety systems.

The best way to protect the car occupants is to avoid accidents. This was one of the most important starting points when Volvo started work on the Volvo S80. To achieve the company's safety objectives, an entirely new generation of advanced driving and support systems was developed, some of which have been previewed on concept cars.

'The basic principle for our preventive safety systems is that they should not take over the driving or the driver's responsibility,' says Silvia Güllsdorf, Volvo S80 Project Director. 'The aim is to help the driver to make the correct decision in difficult situations by issuing a warning and then indicate how to deal with the situation.'

Adaptive Cruise Control with Distance Alert and Collision Warning with Auto Brake

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Distance Alert and Collision Warning with Auto Brake technology addresses the problem of rear-end impacts and is available as an option on the Volvo S80. The ACC and Distance Alert help the driver maintain a steady distance to the vehicle in front, while the Collision Warning and Auto Brake can automatically activate the brakes when a rear-end collision is imminent.

Collision Warning with Auto Brake uses both radar and a camera to detect vehicles in front of the car. The radar has a range of 150 metres while the camera range is 55 metres. By combining the information from both the radar and camera the system becomes more efficient and with statistics showing that 50 percent of rear-end impacts involve a stationary object, the system is also designed to detect stationary vehicles. The warning system can be adapted to match individual driving styles and conditions, and a choice of three sensitivity options can be selected in the car settings menu.

The system begins when the car is approaching another vehicle from behind and the driver does not react. To alert the driver, a red warning light flashes in the head-up display on the windscreen and an audible signal is heard. In many cases this gives the driver enough time to react and an accident can be avoided. If the risk of collision increases despite the warning, the brake support is activated. This shortens the reaction time by preparing the brakes and placing the brake pads against the discs. The brake pressure is also reinforced hydraulically, ensuring effective braking even if the driver doesn't press the brake pedal particularly hard.

If the driver still doesn't brake and the sensor system determines that a collision is going to happen, the brakes are activated automatically. Auto Brake is designed to lower the impact speed as much as possible and thereby reduce the risk of injury to the occupants of both vehicles. For example a reduction in speed from 37mph to 31mph gives approximately 30 percent less impact energy, which can mean the difference between a serious and minor injury. In some cases it can help avoid the impact completely.

To help maintain relaxed driving control Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is also included within this option; this system maintains a steady distance between the car in front even when traffic flow is uneven. By using radar sensors to continuously measure the distance to the vehicle in front, the system automatically adapts the speed of the car to ensure that the distance is maintained. Adaptive Cruise Control handles part of the routine driving functions so the driver can focus on what's going on further ahead. There is a choice of five different time intervals ranging between 1 and 2.6 seconds.

Distance Alert (DA) is the final feature included in this option. The system helps the driver maintain a safe distance to the vehicle in front even when Adaptive Cruise Control is not in use. Activated via a button on the centre console, the driver can choose between five settings, similar to those of the ACC. If the time gap to the car in front gets shorter than the selected speed, the driver gets visual information in the head-up display on the lower section of the windscreen.

The availability of these systems depends on the number and quality of visible road markings. Poor light, fog, snow and extreme weather conditions can make the system unavailable.

Driver Alert Control and Lane Departure Warning

Driver Alert Control (DAC) as well as a Lane Departure Warning (LDW) system are also available as an option on the Volvo S80.

"Real life safety is the key to our safety philosophy. When it comes to preventative safety, we have the same approach as when we develop protective systems. In other words our research and technical developments focus on areas where new technology can create significant results in real-life-traffic," says Thomas Broberg, Senior Safety Advisor.

Rather than monitoring human behaviour (which varies from one person to another) DAC monitors the progress of the car on the road. Monitoring driving behaviour is more reliable as it assesses the impact that fatigue or distraction has on the car's movements and assesses whether it's being driven in a controlled, consistent manner. This also means that DAC covers a wider range of situations, such as when the driver is focusing too much attention on a mobile phone conversation or is distracted by other passengers in the car.

This system consists of a camera located between the windscreen and the interior rear view mirror, a number of sensors and a control unit. The camera measures the distance between the car and the road lane markings, while the sensors register the car's movements. This information is sent to the control unit which then calculates whether the driver is at risk of losing control of the car.

If the risk is assessed as high, the driver is alerted via an audible signal, while a text message and coffee cup symbol appear in the car's information display to urge the driver to take a break. The driver has the opportunity to access driving information throughout a journey, the starting point is five bars and the less consistent the driving, the fewer bars remain.

"It is, of course, always the driver's responsibility to take a break when necessary, but sometimes you might not realise that you're not alert enough to drive. In such situations, Driver Alert Control can help the driver make the right decision before the concentration level becomes too low," concludes Daniel Levin, project manager for Driver Alert Control at Volvo Cars.

LDW uses the camera located between the windscreen and the rear view mirror and monitors the car's position between the road markings. The system is activated via a button on the centre console and gives a gentle warning sound if the car crosses one of the road markings without reason such as if the indicator hasn't been used.

Both the Driver Alert Control and Lane Departure Warning are activated when the car reaches 40mph and they will stay active as long as the speed exceeds 37mph. The availability of these systems depends on the number and quality of visible road markings. The lane markings must be clearly visible and poor light, fog, snow and extreme weather conditions can make the system unavailable.

Blind Spot Information System makes lane changing safer

The Volvo S80 is also equipped with BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) and IDIS (Intelligent Driver Information System). With the aid of cameras beside the door mirrors, BLIS registers if another vehicle is in the blind spot alongside the car. The warning light beside the mirror is then activated.

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