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by Tim Beissmann

Volvo says the opening of the AstaZero advanced proving ground in Sweden brings it a step closer to realising its dream that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.

AstaZero, which stands for ‘Active Safety Test Area’ and represents the vision of zero traffic fatalities, claims to be the world’s first full-scale proving ground for testing future traffic safety solutions.

The highly versatile facility accommodates a wide range of test conditions including those found on city streets, crossroads, highways and multi-lane motorways.

It allows the simulation of all types of real-world traffic scenarios, and will help engineers and researchers to study the way cars interact with moving obstacles such as other cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, pedestrians and cyclists, and even animals as they appear suddenly. In certain trials, robots will operate the test cars.

Studies at AstaZero will also include the development and testing of autonomous driving technology.

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The $78 million AstaZero facility based just outside Gothenburg is the product of collaboration between academics, authorities and industry. It will serve as an open platform for vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, legislators, road agencies, universities and technical institutions. Its industry partners include Volvo Group and Volvo Car Group, Autoliv, Scania, and Test Site Sweden.

AstaZero covers an area of about two million square metres, 250,000m2 of which is paved. The facility is encircled by a 5.7km highway that connects to a mock city environment with four block, each measuring 25m by 40m. It also features a high-speed area comprising a circle 240m in diameter and two acceleration roads, one measuring about 1km long.

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Volvo Cars Safety Centre’s Anders Axelson said AstaZero would play several important roles for the manufacturer going forward.

“Safety testing under realistic circumstances is a prerequisite for developing our active safety systems,” Axelson said.

“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.

“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.”




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