Volvo Cars tackles is calling for a new, global standard in how autonomous vehicles can safely communicate with all other road users.
The company is pushing the benefits of the technology but says that, since it will be introduced gradually rather than overnight, fully autonomous cars will need to contend with sharing the road with other road users and that it will no longer be possible to make eye contact with and learn about another driver’s intentions, a central element of today’s everyday traffic interaction.
It says as part of the development of the 360c, Volvo Cars’ safety engineers decided to tackle this challenge of how to establish a safe means of communication between fully autonomous cars and other road users and creating a universally-applicable standard, so that other road users do not have to consider the make or brand of individual autonomous cars.
It says the 360c addresses this challenge with a system comprising external sounds, colours, visuals and movements as well as combinations of these tools, to communicate the vehicle’s intentions to other road users. This means it is at all times clear what the car will do next and that, while the design of the 360c safety communication technology focuses on making the car indicate its own intentions to other road users, it will never issue directions or instructions to other road users.
“We strongly believe this communication method should be a universal standard, so all road users can communicate easily with any autonomous car, regardless of which maker built it,” said Malin Ekholm, Vice President at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “But it is also important that we do not instruct others what to do next, in order to avoid potential confusion. Our research shows this is the safest way for fully autonomous cars to communicate with other road users.”
Volvo says the 360c represents its vision for a future of travel that is autonomous, electric, connected and safe – and which may allow Volvo Cars to enter new growth markets.