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Volvo Promises 'Death-Proof' Cars By 2020 ( 229

mrspoonsi sends news that Swedish automaker Volvo has issued a bold promise: by 2020, there will be no serious injuries or fatalities in new Volvo cars. Volvo already has various smart features in its cars, but by combining them all, it becomes much harder to end up in a serious accident. Adaptive cruise control for example, is already available on many cars. It allows you to set a maximum speed, but uses radar to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you. It can even apply the brakes if need be. This can be taken a step further with full collision avoidance. When a crash is likely, the driver will be warned. If action isn't taken, the car can begin braking to avoid, or at least minimize the impact. ... Cameras will also be used to watch for pedestrians in the vicinity of the vehicle. This is similar to the technology that is used in self-driving cars to identify potential obstacles on the road.
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Volvo Promises 'Death-Proof' Cars By 2020

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  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:01AM (#51349853)

    "Hey, y'all, watch this!"

    Unless the cars are entirely autonomous, AND automatically sedate the driver upon entry, I think they'll have a hard time achieving this goal.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think they're trying to say that there won't be any new Volvos in 2020.

    • will Volvo pay for the mthybusters to come back and test it out?

    • Unless the cars are entirely autonomous, AND automatically sedate the driver upon entry, I think they'll have a hard time achieving this goal.

      They're only talking about new Volvo cars. The old Volvos will still be dangerous.

      Obviously, that means they're planning to shut down production and liquidate all their assets by year 2020.

    • No, it's easy - park in a safe place and never move.

      Just like helicopter engineers know the way to make their stuff safe is to make it so heavy that it will never fly.

      If you never exceed 30mph, lock the doors and windows shut anytime the car is moving, equip it with 6 sided slow-fill airbags, inside and out, and deploy upon even the threat of impact, you'll probably get the occupant death rate down below the struck pedestrian death rate (and improve the struck pedestrian death rate at the same time.)

  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:04AM (#51349863)

    After all, what can they do about a semi "driven" by a drunk or exhausted guy ploughing into you at speed?

    • Something like this perhaps? []

    • Ejection seats
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Volvos are nearly indestructible anyway, about as close as we have got to a General Products hull. I'm sure they will be able to build something that could survive even a large truck hitting it and keep the passenger more or less unharmed.

      Well, unless you could whiplash as a serious injury, which it is.

  • Death Proof (Score:5, Funny)

    by sanf780 ( 4055211 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:04AM (#51349867)
    I think I have heard that before from Stuntman Mike.
  • Hmmm... History. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Death-prroof is a strong claim. I seem to remember a little incident in 1912 about an unsinkable ship.. How are these cars going to account for something like a 747 crashing into them from above?

    • They're safe - Mythbusters is off the air now. Then again, Jamie might take that offer of an occasional special after reading this morning's news. "I could kill somebody in a Volvo."

  • Boston Whaler promises Captain Ron boats by 2021.
  • by sabbede ( 2678435 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:09AM (#51349903)
    Because if I'm going to live forever, I want a bathroom, kitchen and real bed.
    • Because if I'm going to live forever, I want a bathroom, kitchen and real bed.

      Exactly. I live about an 8 hour drive from the ocean. If gas prices stay cheap**, I would love to get in an RV on Friday night and wake up on the beach on Saturday morning and then go to bed Sunday night and be back in my hometown for work/school Monday morning.

      **Even at high gas prices, if you put 3-4 people in a vehicle, it's still considerably cheaper than flying.

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:15AM (#51349929)

    I'm pretty sure if you're ever hit head-on by a full-loaded semi at 70mph, all the safety features in the world won't help much. And the automatic swerve feature will only work if there happens to be somewhere to swerve *to*.

    • My brother sold his truck and purchased something that handled much better on ice after it lost control on a long narrow bridge covered in ice that he has to travel every day to work.

      Coincidentally he sold it to our other brother who recently gave it to my son for his sixteenth birthday and thinks it's awesome because it slides around in the snow.

    • The phrase "death-proof" is a marketing department wet dream, and a legal department nightmare (if only there was a word stronger than nightmare). Your scenario and dozens of others--which, statistically speaking, *will* happen--are why they can't make claims like these.

      They can't even caveat them or small-print around them. It doesn't matter that the fast talker guy at the end of the commercial says "Volvo cannot prevent your death in all circumstances, see dealer for details, tax tag and title extra.
    • Actually they do. Ironically enough.
      It applies full braking before the driver reacts.
      Because ABS is a thing, and the car brakes extremely hard. Which means it can brake on snow and ice.
      So the car has lost most of its momentum before head to head.
      Because of deformation, the car engine and front deforms instead of hitting the driver.

      Now, the keyword here is "death proof" not "maim proof". And that opens up another ugly set of things.

      • ABS will not necessarily stop a vehicle on ice. What it will do is allow you to steer into the curb or something before sliding into a busy street. (That one was a bit worrying, and if I'd been unable to steer I'd have been in real trouble.)

    • Not if it carries no living passengers, and doesn't move. In 2020 Volvo will introduce autonomous blocks of solid steel, Once delivered to your home they will be immobile and have no passenger spaces. Thus Death proof.
    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      How can you have a head-on with nowhere to go? Lots of one-lane bridges where you are?

      The scenario I though of that they can't stop is stopped at a light. First (and only) car in line. Very heavy traffic crossing at high speed. The vehicle behind you, suffers unintended acceleration, and is heading at you at 100 mph. You are stopped. You have time to accelerate into traffic, or wait to be hit.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'll pass on Google's cars. I don't want my car automatically pulling into the parking lots of every business that pays Google for the advertising.

    Driver: "Take me to the gym"

    Google car: "Arriving at Starbucks for your workout latte."

    Driver: "Take me to church."

    Google car: "Arriving at Joe's package store." Shit, the fucking Google car used Google to find out I'm Baptist.

  • Or perhaps speeding ticket proof...

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:21AM (#51349975) Homepage Journal
    I hate to break it to you guys, but Volvo was bought by the Chinese in 2010. So, um, yeah, good luck with that.
  • Otherwise any 'death proof' car can become a killer with the simple addition of a piece of hose pipe...
    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      I suspect that a hydrogen-based death-free car can also become a killer with the simple addition of a drill through the fuel tank.

  • And what happens when an 18-wheeler crushes said car?
  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:29AM (#51350021)

    One of the reasons they need all that safety equipment is that the suspension system sucks. In many other cars, if you’re going down the road and start turning the steering wheel like you’re on a slalom, the car stay stable and steer and maybe rock a bit. In a Volvo, it will suffer massive body roll and basically go out of control. So they make up for it with electronics. Electronics are good, but why not fix the underlying problems first?

    • What volvo did you drive? I've always been pretty happy with their handling, though I've only driven 1997 models and older. Not as good as my classic Saab, but that's to be expected with macpherson struts.

  • by Jameson Burt ( 4099471 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:39AM (#51350083)
    The 2016 Subaru Outback calls this EyeSight, with stereo cameras near the rear view mirror. The Outback decelerates and eventually brakes to keep a fixed distance (I choose about 160 feet, but it's selectable) from any car ahead. When no car is ahead, the Outback accelerates back to the set speed; eg, 60 mph. If I stray off road lines, the car will beep and tug back some. I presume other manufacturers do similarly -- the technology has arrived, not Volvo has arrived.
  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:51AM (#51350183)

    Leaders of ISIL and Al-Qaeda would be interested

  • by Lucas123 ( 935744 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @10:53AM (#51350199) Homepage
    I think CNN or some news site picked the story up yet again after an interview at CES. This is ooooold news. Every year or so, Volvo makes their "no deaths or injuries" car pledge to stir up interest. Here's a 2008 story in Wired about it []. Here's one in 2012 []. Here's one in 2013 []. I'm sure there's more.
    • Sorry folks. For some reason the HTML code isn't working, so here are the raw links:

  • Who knew that Volvo had the secret to immortality.

    Gives new meaning to "riding off into the sunset." (only to see another sunrise)

  • The first sentence, "the term 'death proof' is a marketing term and has no real meaning within this contract"...
    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      I don't even think it's a marketing term, only a term being used by third parties with respect to Volvo's claims about making it accident-proof.
      • Even accident-proof is opening Volvo to legal claims. The word "proof" implies "can't happen". Never use the word never. :)
        • by mark-t ( 151149 )
          Actually, even that's not what Volvo is *actually* saying... all they are saying is "there will be no serious injuries or fatalities in new Volvo cars".

          I am admittedly just as guilty as those writing the headlines saying that they are "death-proof", for saying that they claimed they will be "accident-proof".

          I would suggest that their claim is probably even physically possible, to the extent that the vehicle has not been placed in artificially contrived circumstances (such as physically lifting the car o

    • Is this anything similar to Oracle introducing their database version 10g as "unbreakable"?

  • How are they going to stop someone from getting hit in an intersection?
  • Ridonkulous (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 )
    As shown by Slashdotters, make a ridiculous claim, get ridiculous (and deserved) responses.

    I suspect in the end, autonomy is going to look a little different than the predicticationaies are predicticating.

    Some of this stuff is tremendous technology. Lane assist, automatic parking, anti-tailgating radar collision avoidance. All tremendous stuff. rerouting information

    But a fully autonomous car? Probably not. The killer? Maybe not what you think.

    I'm trying to imagine everyone planning out their route

    • You are demonstrating incredible short sightedness. Mainly because you sit there asking "Is this something I want?" rather than "Is there a market for this?"

      We are not being ridiculous, you are. Mainly because you are not thinking of other people.

      Let's talk about garbage trucks - vehicles that move at slow speeds, the same route every day, with 3 people one of whom just drives, while the other two load. Today. Twenty years from now, it will be 2 people who load, while the truck drives itself.

      Let's ta

  • Like to see that scenario.

    • well.. ok, but this one is easy... car applies brakes when it senses it is running out of road.

      But what about falling anvils?

  • To announce going out of business in 2019.
  • Because that would be truely creepy. And no way would I ever be getting into one of those cars.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is interesting to watch Volvo taking an opposite approach to Google. If you watch Google's TED talks on their autonomous cars (the one from last year) you'll hear the speaker go on and on about how there will be no way for a car using an incremental approach towards automation to offer 100% safety, and the only possible way to do it is to delete that approach from your thinking and design completely from the ground up that the car must be 100% autonomous from day one.

    Personally, I think Google's approac

    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

      That the driver will, as automation increases, stop paying attention even faster and thus have increasing numbers of accidents.

      This very problem is a direct cause of quite a few aircraft crashes, so you're just not understanding it, but Google is.

      there is nothing preventing the automation from simply being offline until the last moment when it can prevent the collision

      We don't need autonomy to prevent collisions. We need autonomy because commuting, for the most part, is a horrendous waste of time. If I'm in the car, I'd much rather read the e-book than listen to an audiobook, or I'd work on something. I commute for 40 minutes total each day. It'd get a lot of side projects done if I could devote two uninterrupted 20 minute chunks of time each day to som

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      Personally, I think Google's approach is flawed because they make a flawed assumption: That the driver will, as automation increases, stop paying attention even faster and thus have increasing numbers of accidents. This is flawed because there is nothing preventing the automation from simply being offline until the last moment when it can prevent the collision. ie: The driver must remain fully engaged.

      This logic is flawed because most people own more than one car. As soon as you add any safety feature, dri

  • by LaurenCates ( 3410445 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @11:55AM (#51350671)

    Someone makes something death-proof, they just go and make a bigger death.

    Or something like that.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The swedish and other scandinavian people are suprisingly honest: words mean a whole lot to them, it doesn't even have to be put in writing. They feel like cold and reserved, but if they promise then they will deliver, no matter what. That is hard to grasp from a north-american viewpoint, where media is much influenced by cunning jew-think and cheeky fraud is the laudable moral code baseline.

    That difference is one of the reasons the little SAAB JAS-39 Gripen fighter jet has been sold / long-term leased to s

  • by atheos ( 192468 ) on Friday January 22, 2016 @12:20PM (#51350895) Homepage
    which begs the question, who the hell is going to purchase the 2019 models?
  • Because that's easy. Volvos were already pretty much tanks on the roads. You do NOT want to get into a crash with a Volvo. Believe me that much. If you can either crash into a M1 tank or a Volvo, choose the M1. It sure is not only the softer target but also will cause less unnecessary damage on your car.

    Take a look at some crash videos involving Volvos. Then ponder being in the "wrong" car. Not funny.

  • Safe at any speed [] is just not something we can promise with our current technology. Being crushed between a runaway cement truck and a dump truck while boxed in at a stoplight is impossible for car sensors to stop. Being blown off of an icy bridge and sinking to the bottom is another scenario the car won't be able to protect against.
    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      And a paper/plastic bag blowing across the road is almost impossible to distinguish at speed with "sensors" and will cause your car to come to a screaming halt.

      Or else it would similarly drive straight over the top of a toddler running out in front of you.

      Personally, I think the car could be made safe. The driver behind you driving a "non-safe" car is what's going to kill you every time. And that will only be made worse if cars take it upon themselves to perform ever-more-drastic actions on the basis of s

  • By making that claim, Volvo have shown that they have very seriously underestimated the awesome power of the American general public to continually and creatively take "stupid" to whole other levels.

  • My wife getting hysterical every time a car passes in front of me isn't enough. Now I'll have to listen to my car screaming at me, too.

  • First, there is NO such thing as 100% death proof. There have been 5 serious injuries/deaths in around 75,000 Model S.
    1) a car thief that hit an old 1920's street light at over 100 MPH and split the car in half. He actually died a day later.
    2) a car that went over a cliff and dropped over 300 feet.
    3) another car that went over a cliff and bounced some 250 feet off the sides.
    4) another one that had a head-on with a semi-truck that ran OVER the Tesla, crushing it.
    5) the most recent in which an old man dr
  • So that means all new Volvo's will come equipped standard with a hover mode? In case the car hits a patch of ice and skids off a cliff?

  • How about calling it the Volvo Titanic?

The best defense against logic is ignorance.