Call it a mix between an auto pilot and big brother.
Volvo has always been synonymous with safety in the automobile world. Now, the Swedish automaker is taking drastic steps to push the borders between "safety" and "big brother" with proactive safety systems in its vehicles. These systems will soon take control of your car if the notice what they "judge" to be an impaired or distracted driver.
To achieve this control over incapacitated drivers, Volvo soon equip its cars with cameras to monitor and evaluate the responsiveness of drivers, in what the automaker is positioning as a hope to combat against drunk and distracted drivers. If a driver is deemed impaired, the vehicle's autonomous safety systems will intervene on various levels and also "call the authorities", according to Motor 1 .
Henrik Green, senior vice president for research and development at Volvo said: “When it comes to safety, our aim is to avoid accidents altogether rather than limit the impact when an accident is imminent and unavoidable. In this case, cameras will monitor for behaviour that may lead to serious injury or death.”
The company hasn't released specific details on how the cameras will work yet. The vehicle will also "monitor steering input and recognize excessive weaving or wandering." If the vehicle senses a distracted or impaired driver, it could limit the car’s speed and even bring the car to a stop in a safe manner autonomously.
Interior facing cameras are currently only available on a couple of vehicles, including Teslas and select vehicles by Mazda and Subaru, among a few others. The data from cameras is generally run through image recognition software to try and determine whether or not a driver is paying attention, looking at their cell phone, or perhaps even getting sleepy.
Volvo has plans to implement the cameras on its cars in the early 2020s.
Back in January, we wrote an article saying that cars would "soon be monitoring their drivers and selling the data they collect".
A report by Reuters noted that at CES in Las Vegas this year, start up companies were looking to demonstrate to automakers how their technology gathers data on drivers – all in the name of enhanced safety purposes.
It is unclear if demand for Volvos will collapse as a result of big brother watching over every move, or if potential customers will welcome this latest incursion of their privacy, boosting sales.