Volvo has a mission: That by 2020, no one will be killed or badly injured when inside a new Volvo. That’s why they’ve has had a long-term goal to drastically improve overall safety features of their vehicles and create an improved driver experience.
To help with their mission, Volvo has opened AstaZero, the world’s very first full-scale test environment for future road and traffic safety, located near the Volvo Cars headquarters in western Sweden. The main goal at AstaZero: creating active safety systems, which will help prevent accidents in the future.
The AstaZero facility is extremely flexible and boasts a design that allows for the construction of one-of-a-kind environments. “You can simulate all types of real-world traffic scenarios. At most proving grounds, the options are more limited,” explains CEO of AstaZero, Pether Wallin. For example, testing conditions can range from busy city roads to highways and multi-lane motorways and crossroads. Having all these conditions allows for the intrinsic study of how cars interact with moving objects—anything from other vehicles to pedestrians and animals.
“Safety testing under realistic circumstances is a prerequisite for developing our active safety systems,” says Anders Axelson of Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “The facility will play several important roles: not only will it help us meet our safety vision, developing cars that don’t crash, it will also help us further develop safety functions that will address non-motorists, such as pedestrians and cyclists.”
Not only will AstaZero serve as a place to perform safety research and development, work will also include the development and testing of autonomous driving technology, the idea that the car drives and the driver doesn’t necessarily need to have their hands on the wheel, which reduces accidents and improves safety. Additionally, work on advanced systems to help with driver fatigue and inattentiveness are currently underway.
”The Swedish automotive industry is at the leading edge of active safety,” says Axelson. “Thanks to AstaZero, we have great prospects for keeping our leading position. We’re the only car manufacturing company in the world to have set a goal of zero traffic fatalities for a specific date, and we’re the only country in the world whose government supports a zero traffic fatalities vision.”