What Does ‘Care Key’ Do?
In March Volvo announced that all models sold in the year 2021 and onwards would come equipped with a ‘Care Key’. The key allows you to set a maximum speed, so whoever is driving your car cannot exceed that speed limit. This is a new safety feature which will help parents feel more at ease when their teenagers borrow their car (or even with their own cars). It will also be beneficial for insurance companies and their customers.
What Else are Volvo Launching in 2021?
As well as the ‘Care Key’ being introduced in 2021 models, all Volvo Cars sold from then on will be manufactured with a speed cap of 180 Kilometres per hour (112 MPH). So even without setting a limit using your care key, your car will automatically not reach unnecessarily high, unsafe speeds. Volvo are also working towards self-driving cars, like most other major car companies, and are adding more autonomous features to their 2021 models with ‘Highway assist’ which promises to allow you to be able to sleep for at least part of your commute. You can read more about their upcoming autonomous features here.
What are They Planning Long Term?
Volvo is committed to taking more responsibility for the safety of their customers and products, and will continue to promote safe driving. In addition to the care key and built in speed cap, they have plans to install safety cameras and sensors in all new vehicles. The technology for these safety devices already exists and is being used by other companies like Nissan, Hyundai and Tesla. Companies like Netradyne (based in the USA) and Nexyad (based in Europe) are using and continuing to develop car safety AI technology. The devices they sell are able to monitor inside and outside of the vehicle in real time and alert drivers (and also managers of transport companies) of any hazards on the road, safe following distances, lane lines, traffic lights and speed limits. Inside the car a driver facing camera is used to monitor the driver, checking for signs of drowsiness or lack of attention to the road. Volvo intends to also create features able to detect drunk drivers, and potentially disable the car to prevent drunk driving accidents.
Are There Moral Implications to This Technology?
With recent advances in car safety technology and even fully self-driving cars soon to be released by companies like Tesla, Volvo’s CEO Håkan Samuelsson has a question for vehicle manufacturers. Do they have a right or even perhaps an obligation to incorporate compulsory safety technology? Technology which may change owners driving behaviours and improve overall road safety for all those who use the roads. There are some moral considerations to be made, possibly even legal ones but Volvo has made their intent clear for the future. They have a good amount of time before 2021 to ensure the additional safety measures meet moral and legal standards and obligations.
Hopefully the announcement of Volvo’s future safety plans will be supported by the industry and encourage other car manufacturers to follow suit and offer the same or similar safety features. Too many die on the roads worldwide (approximately 1.25 million a year according to the World Health Organisation), and the vast majority of those deaths are preventable by using technology to monitor and alert drivers to dangers and manage excessive speeds. Sadly, many of those who lose their lives as a result of car accidents are not the drivers responsible, but innocent passengers or cyclists or bystanders. We do not ‘need’ the right to drive at unsafe speeds, if the car industry can regulate speeds themselves it will create safer roads for everyone.