The initiative involves 28 partners from the automotive industry and academia, including the SAFER research centre at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, which will help assess the data collated by the Volvos taking part in European field tests.
Each Volvo will be equipped with cameras that record the driver's head and eye movements, together with a data logger that records the information from the safety features in the car.
Other cameras will film the driver's view of the road, also behind the car. The information and the videos are saved on a hard disk from where the researchers can analyse patterns.
The overall ambition is to develop a safer, cleaner and more efficient road transportation system in Europe. Sweden has a leading position in the world when it comes to advanced collection of field data. Knowledge from an ongoing national FOT project, where Volvo Cars is a part and which is organised by SAFER research centre at Chalmers in Gothenburg, will be used in the EuroFOT project.
"In order to move towards a crash-free future, we need to learn more about what kind of mistakes and situations that might lead to accidents," says John-Fredrik Grönvall, senior Research engineer and leader of the Field Operational Tests (FOT) at Volvo Cars. This project gives us an opportunity to prove the effectiveness of today's range of preventive safety features and it will also help our engineers develop future safety solutions."
About three million kilometres of everyday driving will be recorded and analysed by the researchers. The cars will be equipped with preventive safety features that already are available on the market today.
"In Sweden, 150 Volvo vehicles will be included in the project; 100 cars and 50 trucks equipped with advancedlogging devices. In addition, 275 vehicles in Europe will get less advanced equipment and another 1,000 responses will be secured by letting the drivers fill in a survey," says Trent Victor, research leader for Road User Behaviour at SAFER.
"There will always be a need for individual flexibility and therefore a need for cars," says Helena Gellerman, project manager for SAFER. "The car industry has always been in the forefront with new technology. By competing successfully with the public transportation, they help pushing the borders towards a safer and more environmental friendly society."
Volvo Cars has studied and learned from real-life traffic accidents since the early seventies in order to continuously assess the vehicle's ability to protect its occupants in the event of an accident. The introduction of active safety systems, driver assistance systems and preventative safety systems requires new and entirely different research methods, hence its involvement in the research project.
The Swedish partners in EuroFOT are investing 72 million SEK over a three year period. The project kicked off in May 2008 and the total budget is 200 million SEK.