Items one and two on that list are really nothing new, but intersection support is – at least in name. Really, all three are extensions of technology the company already announced, Volvo says the features are designed to give drivers support when they need it most.
Before you get too excited, the autonomous driving that Volvo will put in future cars doesn’t measure up to the Google car.
It won’t drive you to Taco Bell and let you order a sour cream smorgasbord, but it will keep pace with the car you’re following in slow traffic. The engine, brakes and steering wheel will follow its leader and react accordingly, taking some of the emphasis out of watching the road during situations like highway traffic jams.
Animal detection functions as an enhancement of the brand’s pedestrian detection system, which alerts drivers to potential manslaughter risks, only now it’s keeping an eye out for road kill too. Its system achieves this by recognizing movement patterns in wild animals and is meant to be used at cruising speeds. Volvo says if it can reduce speed from around 70 mph to 50 mph, the risk of serious injury will be reduced.
Finally, intersection support uses the car’s already-existent radar to detect when someone is about to run a red light while you’re entering an intersection. Volvo gave the example of when a car is in line to turn left. In that situation, the system would sense the approaching object and brake to avoid it.
Unfortunately, the only thing that matches how complex the brand’s safety systems can be is how complicated the cars can be to use, as the company’s CEO recently admitted. If these systems work seamlessly behind the scenes, they will probably prove to be helpful. However, if the fact remains that most Volvo owners don’t understand how to access much of their own car’s features, the extra tech is utterly pointless.