GOTHENBURG -- Volvo hopes to reinforce its reputation for safety-first driving by installing cameras and sensors in its next-generation cars starting in the early 2020s, monitoring drivers for signs of being drunk or distracted and intervening to prevent accidents.
Volvo said the cameras and sensors will be installed on all models built on its SPA2 platform for larger cars such as the XC90 SUV, on which its driverless cars will also be built, starting in the early part of the next decade.
The behaviors that Volvo hopes that its cameras will be able to detect include lack of steering input for extended periods, drivers with their eyes closed, as well as "extreme weaving across lanes" or "excessively slow reaction times," Volvo said.
Intervention if the driver is found to be drunk, tired or distracted by checking a mobile phone could involve limiting the car's speed, alerting the Volvo on Call assistance service, or slowing down and parking the car, it said.
Development of technology that would support such maneuvers has accelerated in the past year as the industry increasingly focuses on electric and autonomous cars.
The safety features, detailed at a briefing in Gothenburg on Wednesday, mark another step by Volvo toward its pledge to eliminate passenger fatalities and serious injuries starting in 2020.
Volvo, which in 1959 was the first carmaker to introduce the three-point seat belt, said on March 4 it would introduce a 180 kph (112 mph) speed limit on all new vehicles starting with the 2020 model year.
Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson told journalists the technology developments meant automakers had the responsibility to take on the role of Big Brother to ensure safety on the roads.
While the strategy could cost Volvo customers keen on driving at high speeds, it also opened opportunities to win parents who wanted to buy the safest car to carry their children, he said.
Volvo also said it would introduce Care Key, allowing a Volvo buyer to set a speed limit for themselves or before lending the car to younger or inexperienced drivers, as standard on all its cars starting in 2021.
Samuelsson said Volvo was talking to insurers to offer favorable terms to what it termed as the "Club 180," referring to customers who agreed to the limitation of top speed and the use the more restrictive safety features.
"If we can encourage and support better behavior with technology that helps drivers to stay out of trouble, that should logically also have a positive impact on insurance premiums," Samuelsson said.
Bloomberg contributed to this report