Even after decades of public awareness campaigns aimed at eliminating drunk driving, there are still those who choose to take the wheel when they’ve imbibed too much alcohol, or smoked a few joints.
The statistics show that progress has been made, but more work needs to be done.
Volvo, keen to preserve its status as an industry leader in terms of automotive safety, is working on new technology that will be able to detect when a driver is intoxicated. Even better, the system will intervene to stop the vehicle, in a safe spot of course.
In a nutshell, the system uses a number of cameras and sensors to monitor the movements of the driver, and key on certain behaviours that indicate that driver doesn’t have the proper faculties to operate the vehicle. Examples of red flag gestures are lack of contact with the steering wheel, eyes closing for longer periods of time than usual, vague movements between lanes and very slow reaction times.
If the vehicle’s system detects a situation deemed dangerous, it can limit the speed of the vehicle, place a call to the Volvo on Call assistance centre, and, if necessary, bring the vehicle to a stop in a safe spot.
"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 behavior that may lead to serious injury or death."
- Volvo R&D senior VP Henrik Green
Of course, this type of technology can only be used in a vehicle that is equipped for some degree of autonomous driving.
Volvo says it wants to debut the new system starting in the early 2020s.
Here’s hoping this kind of technology can also be used to tackle another serious modern-day problem, that of texting while driving.