- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2016

Volvo has doubled-down on its promise of putting “death-proof” cars on the road by 2020. Already several years into researching ways to reduce automobile fatalities, the car maker is now claiming to be closer than ever.

Lex Kerssemakers, the CEO of Volvo Cars North America, told CNN Money on Wednesday that he’s confident his crew is on its way to achieving a previously announced goal of ensuring no one is killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020.

“If you meet Swedish engineers, they’re pretty genuine,” said Mr. Kerssemakers. “They don’t say things when they don’t believe in it.”

Volvo has been developing “no death” cars since as early as 2012, and said at the time that state-of-the-art technology stood to make that a reality by the end of the decade. Now as automakers the world over ramp-up their research on autonomous, or self-driving cars, Volvo hopes a suite of advances will allow the company to follow through on its promise.

“With the development of full autonomy we are going to push the limits of automotive safety,” Volvo safety engineer Erik Coelingh told CNN, “because if you make a fully autonomous vehicle you have to think through everything that potentially can happen with a car.”

Specifically, Volvo wants its 2020 models to incorporate adaptive cruise control, which is already widely in use, as well as a feature that will keep cars from drifting in-and-out of lanes, others that will detect pedestrians and large animals, and a “collision avoidance” function that will rely on radar, cameras and other sensors to detect obstacles, CNN reported. 

Statistics kept by the the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that there are nine vehicles, including the Volvo XC90, in which there have been zero driver fatalities during the last four years.

Last week, the Obama administration pledged $4 billion toward a 10-year plan intended to fund research and development projects that would expedite the roll-out of autonomous automobile technology. Anthony Foxx, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said at an event where the news was announced last Thursday that Mr. Foxx said that the billions could help eliminate as many as 25,000 fatalities each year by cutting down on the number of traffic accidents attributed to human error. As many as four of five accidents are due to mistakes on the driver’s part, he said.

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