DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC

Volvo has autonomous vehicle safety covered like a blanket

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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Leave it to Volvo to already be working on a patent for a solution that will keep passengers safe even as they sleep in their self-driving cars.

Volvo injury prevention specialist Lotta Jakobsson, who is one of the preeminent engineers in the field of passenger protection, has created the first generation of a blanket with integrated straps that will be prominent in what she calls the “hard parts” of the body: the upper torso and the hip/pelvis area.

The product is in its infancy but Jakobsson foresees it pulling tight on the sleeping passenger's body if anything goes wrong. Otherwise, the safety blanket will remain loose and comfortable while the person sleeps, rests or watches a movie as the car travels to its destination.

Jakobsson thinks some people might appreciate it if the blanket has a “hugging” function that can be activated even when there is no danger. She also believes the final product will need to the ability to have its temperature adjusted so that the user can make it warmer or cooler depending on their personal preferences.

Volvo revolutionized car safety with the three-point seat belt, which it debuted in 1959, so it's only fitting that it is already putting itself in position to become synonymous with protecting people in vehicles without a driver.

A very early prototype of Volvo’s safety blanket, which will hold a sleeping person in place if an autonomous car is involved in an accident.

This safety blanket also dovetails perfectly with Volvo's Vision 2020 goal that no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car starting in 2020. With its latest invention, Volvo seems to once again have safety covered -- liked a blanket.

You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at dbolduc@crain.com.

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