Volvo aims to design cars to handle myriad real-life crash scenarios — not just do what’s required to earn a five-star safety rating.

Its latest focus is on crashes that occur when a vehicle runs off the road, a major cause of death and disability on WA’s country roads.

Volvo researcher Lotta Jakobsson said the 2015 XC90 model would have a world-first run-off protection package. “Our solution focuses on keeping the occupants firmly in position and introduces unique energy-absorbing functionality in the seat, ” Professor Jakobsson said.

Using input from the car’s sensor system, the technology is able to detect a run-off scenario.

The front safety belts are instantly prompted to tighten to keep the occupants in position as long as the car is in motion.

When an airborne car has a hard landing, energy- absorbing components between the seat and seat frame deform mechanically.

This feature is designed to cushion the vertical forces on the spine that are typical of run-off crashes.

“By keeping the occupant in an upright posture while cushioning the impact, the vertical forces can be reduced by up to one-third, ” she said,

Volvo has developed three crash tests — Ditch, Airborne and Rough Terrain — to replicate various run-off scenarios, with crash-test dummies.

The XC90 also will come with technologies to prevent run-offs, including:

Lane-Keeping Aid: Applies corrective steering if the car is about to drift out of its lane.

Driver-Alert Control: Detects and warns tired or inattentive drivers.


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© The West Australian

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