AstaZero is the world’s first full-scale proving ground for future traffic safety solutions. Its opening has brought Volvo Car Group a step closer to realizing their vision that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.
An important measure towards achieving this goal will be the development of active safety systems, which will help to prevent accidents. These active safety systems will be the primary focus at AstaZero proving ground, located in close proximity to the Volvo Cars headquarters in western Sweden.
One of the facility’s greatest assets is its flexibility, with a design that permits the construction of unique, customized environments. As Pether Wallin, CEO of AstaZero says, “You can simulate all types of real-world traffic scenarios. At most proving grounds, the options are more limited.”
The centre can accommodate a wide range of test conditions, such as those found on busy city roads, highways, multi-lane motorways and crossroads. These conditions are crucial for studying the way cars interact with moving obstacles such as other cars, pedestrians, cycles, mopeds, motorcycles, trucks, buses and even animals that suddenly appear. In certain studies, e.g. those involving complex traffic situations and high speeds, robots will operate the test vehicles.
“Safety testing under realistic circumstances is a prerequisite for developing our active safety systems,” says Anders Axelson of Volvo Cars Safety Centre. He continues: “The facility will play several important roles: not only will it help us meet our safety vision, developing cars that don’t crash, it will also help us further develop safety functions that will address non-motorists, such as pedestrians and cyclists.”
Research and development
One of AstaZero’s main functions will be as a platform for the research and development of next-generation safety technologies. Here, in collaboration with universities and industry partners, Volvo Cars will undertake a range of initiatives, from strategic vehicle research and innovation projects to targeted research projects.
The work at AstaZero will also include the development and testing of autonomous driving technology, an intelligent driver support system designed to reduce accidents while improving the driving experience. Advanced systems are also under progress to further help prevent, for example, inattentiveness and driver fatigue.
Although meeting their target date of 2020 may be an ambitious goal, Volvo Cars has every reason to be optimistic. Indeed, as their innovative safety solutions have already shown, the future may not be that far off.
Anders Axelson, for one, is confident: “The Swedish automotive industry is at the leading edge of active safety. Thanks to AstaZero, we have great prospects for keeping our leading position. We’re the only car manufacturing company in the world to have set a goal of zero traffic fatalities for a specific date, and we’re the only country in the world whose government supports a zero traffic fatalities vision.”