Volvo's longstanding focus on safety is not changing, even though the automaker is shifting its powertrain portfolio to more and more electric vehicles. Volvo announced Thursday that its upcoming fully electric flagship SUV, to be revealed in 2022, will come with LiDAR sensors and an autonomous driving computer from NVIDIA, both as standard features.
LiDAR, which stands for "light detection and ranging," is a way to determine how far away something is from the sensor. Not all automakers have said publicly that LiDAR is mandatory for autonomous driving vehicles (Tesla is the most prominent voice here). Still, Volvo says the LiDAR technology from Luminar will play an essential role in making its future cars safe.
Distance information taken from the sensor isn't valuable without a way to process it, which is why Volvo will also use the NVIDIA DRIVE Orin system-on-a-chip for its autonomous and safety features. Volvo says the autonomous and safety technology it will make standard on its new all-electric SUV will improve over time, "becoming more capable and allowing the car to assist and improve the capabilities of a human driver in safety-critical situations." Volvo will program its cars not just to alert the driver to potential safety threats, as it does now, but to also "increasingly intervene as needed to prevent collisions" in the future.
"Volvo Cars is and always has been a leader in safety. It will now define the next level of car safety," said CEO Håkan Samuelsson in a statement. "By having this hardware as standard, we can continuously improve safety features over the air and introduce advanced autonomous drive systems, reinforcing our leadership in safety."
Volvo will also reinforce the LiDAR sensors with backup systems on essential vehicle operation functions like steering and braking that will make the automaker's Highway Pilot functionality, an autonomous driving feature designed to be used on limited-access highways, a reality.
The software for the upcoming electric vehicle, the successor to the XC90, not only includes code written by Volvo and NVIDIA but also Luminar and Zenseact, an autonomous automotive safety company that grew out of Volvo Cars (as Zenuity) in 2017.
Volvo will reveal more details about its plans for new technologies like these during an event called the Volvo Cars Tech Moment, which takes place next week, on June 30.