The new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) of Volvo Cars brings them, and hopefully us, closer to a crash-free future. The driver and his or her safety are the main focus of this new product architecture that tends towards autonomous driving.
Volvo states: “The SPA enables significant improvements both when it comes to offering protection in worst-case scenarios and when creating innovative features that support the driver in avoiding accidents.” Therefore, the new architecture enables the car brand to reinforce its safety leadership and increase its momentum towards the aim that by 2020, no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.
What is so special about their new product architecture that Volvo will deliver this promise? Well, the SPA architecture enhances a holistic system built around people. This means that the driver is surrounded by 360° zones extending from technology cushioning the driver to putting him or her in contact with the world (see picture). The “safety technologies” enhance safety belts, pre-tensioners, whiplash protection system, airbags and inflatable curtains. For example, in cars built on the new SPA architecture, the smart belt pre-tension systems increase the retention of the occupants before and during the event of a collision. The rearward-facing radar is used to detect a rear impact. This allows the safety belts to be tightened in advance in order to keep the occupants in place. Besides these technologies that surround the driver, the architecture consist of a mix of different steel grades, which in Volvo’s words “has been made stronger and smarter.”
The new architecture also brings the future of autonomous driving closer to the present. For example, in spite of all the safety technology, the desire to stay online may divert the driver’s focus from the road. Therefore, Senior Manager Safety Strategy and Requirements Jan Ivarsson says: “Allowing the car to act automatically is crucial when moving towards the vision that future cars will not crash at all. The technologies enabled by our new Scalable Product Architecture will bring us significantly closer to this ultimate goal.”