Safety First

New Volvo tech allows sensed road conditions info to be set to municipalities, Waze

V2V communication allows vehicles to connect to each other.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

You might not have gotten in an accident if you know the road ahead of you was covered with ice. You may have known that the road was covered with ice if that digital sign you pass on the highway had a message announcing slippery conditions ahead.

A new partnership between Volvo and Waycare Technologies will enable data from Volvo's Hazard Light Alert and Slippery Road Alert to be anonymously shared with transportation municipalities and Waze.

Starting with 2021 model year vehicles, Hazard Light Alert and Slippery Road Alert will allow certain Volvo cars to communicate with each other. The models will be able to automatically alert other Volvo drivers via a cloud-based network when the vehicle's hazard lights are turned on or low friction is detected, and the system is properly connected to the internet.

Volvo Waycare Technologies Waze safety communication Information sharing between cars can give a driver more knowledge about the unknowns of the roadway ahead.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

This isn't the first time the system has been implemented. It was introduced in 2016 on 90 Series cars in Sweden and Norway.

Hazard Light Alert and Slippery Road Alert now come as standard equipment on all model year 2021 Volvo cars sold in the U.S. Owners will be able to choose to activate the features via the car's infotainment screen and can opt-out/deactivate them at any time.

In addition to road conditions, the Daycare partnership allows Volvos to share data with other sources including city infrastructure, telematics, and weather forecasts.

Behind the scenes, Waycare will then use artificial intelligence to synthesize the data and provide operational insights local U.S. transportation industries (think: New York State Thruway Authority, your local public works department, and the Michigan State Police). Using the information, agencies can choose to push notifications to drivers using the 5-1-1 system, social media, or a series of road sign alerts.

"Sharing real-time safety data between cars can help avoid accidents," said Malin Ekholm, head of Volvo Cars Safety Center. "Volvo owners directly contribute to making roads safer for other drivers that enable the feature, while they also benefit from early warnings to potentially dangerous conditions ahead."

Connected safety data-sharing between Volvo cars is available throughout the U.S. Connected safety data sharing with Waycare and its partners is currently available at locations where Waycare has their traffic Management Platform including Nevada, Central Ohio, Missouri, Texas, North Carolina, Utah, San Francisco/Bay Area, and western Florida. Waycare has plans to expand to other areas in the future.

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Highway safety

U.S. roadway fatalities up in 2021

Ford, Microsoft team to use quantum-inspired technology to understand traffic congestion
Photo coursesy of Ford Motor Company

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just released its estimates on traffic fatalities for the first quarter of 2021 and the numbers aren't promising. In the first quarter of this year alone, 8,730 people died in motor vehicle crashes. Last year's cumulative numbers weren't much better, coming in higher than any year since 2007.


U.S. Roadways Traffic may be going up, but fuel fill ups are down according to the latest research automotivemap.com


The grim statistics represent a 10.5 percent increase from the same time period last year, a time when we were already marveling at the numbers. Further data reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) indicate that the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased by 2.1 percent, which makes the increase in fatalities all the more striking a statistic. Initial projections pegged the number of fatalities per 100 million VMT at 1.12, but it instead climbed to 1.26 fatalities per 100 million VMT.

Regionally, most areas in the United Statessaw an increase, though two did not. The Midwest region, which includes Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas did not change, while the mid-east coast states of North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and West Virginia actually saw a six percent decline in fatality counts.


Highway 1 big sur Highway 1 near Big Sur includes the Bixby Creek Bridge, a famous landmark. Photo by\u00a0Getty Images


What's behind all of this? Last year, the NHTSA reported that, with fewer people on the roads, those that were driving were engaging in risky behavior. What's more, Automotive News reports, that the number of deaths involving people not wearing seatbelts increased 15 percent last year and speeding deaths climbed 10 percent.

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The entire VW lineup sees new features and tech.

Volkswagen

The 2022 Volkswagen lineup will be tech-forward and will have more standard features than before. That's the message the automaker sent with its most recent announcement, which gives us a solid look at the company's 2022 catalog and the standard features that will be distributed across it.

Most new VW models feature the brand's Digital Cockpit system, which is a digital gauge cluster that can display maps, audio and entertainment features, and more. The Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, Golf GTI, and Golf R all come with the feature.


2022 Golf R VW's Digital Cockpit is not standard on several models.Volkswagen


VW's IQ.DRIVE system is also widely standard in the automaker's catalog. The technology includes a hands-on semi-automated driving function with lane centering and capacitive feedback on the steering wheel. Volkswagen says that in town, the system can help alert drivers to upcoming obstacles or to sudden changes in traffic activity ahead. IQ.DRIVE uses front and rear radar, a front camera, and several ultrasound sensors.

Several advanced driver assist features are also included in the IQ.DRIVE system. They include forward collision warnings, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, active blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keep assist, and a semi-automated vehicle assistance system.


2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The Tiguan gets updated styling for the new model year.Volkswagen


Beyond tech updates for the new model year, Volkswagen has made changes to several other models' styling and powertrains. The Jetta, Jetta GLI, and Tiguan received fresh styling for the new model year, while the Arteon sedan now comes with a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.


2022 Volkswagen Taos The Taos is brand-new for 2022.Volkswagen


Finally, a new vehicle hits the VW lineup for 2022. The Taos is a compact SUV with styling similar to that of the Atlas SUV. It also gets the Digital Cockpit system as standard kit, as well as a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine and optional all-wheel drive. The Taos starts at around $23,000 before destination.

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