In the case of a self-driving car, the requirements for a seatbelt are likely to be different from those for a conventional car. The self-driving car is meant to serve as a place for relaxation and will not need a driver. Volvo’s 360c concept car is meant to be a self-driving car and has no steering wheel, pedals or even a traditional dashboard. In line with this strategy, the company has come up with a seatbelt that is just right for the vehicle.
The car is meant to be one that is geared towards serving as either a workspace or a place for relaxation. Volvo has a strong reputation for safety and reliability and thus realized that conventional seat-belts and SRS airbags were not adequate for an autonomous vehicle. This is why Volvo came up with the idea of a Safety Blanket that could be used instead of seatbelts.
Volvo’s engineering team began by closely examining different reclinable positions (with the seatbelt) and tried to visualize what would be needed if a passenger wanted to recline his chair and sleep or even roll over. The Safety Blanket is quite similar to a seatbelt in that it can effectively restrain a passenger at the moment of impact, but the blanket is far better than a seatbelt for a passenger in an autonomous vehicle as it covers the entire body. It comprises restraints that would tighten around the passenger’s shoulders and hip areas in the event of a collision or hard braking.
Commenting on the Safety Blanket, Lotta Jakobsson, senior technical expert at Volvo said that the idea is to choose a personalized blanket for the needs of the passengers and to wear it for their comfort and coziness. It will then provide protection during a crash. Jakobsson said the challenge was to ensure that the Safety Blanket interacts with the passenger as passengers are of different sizes, and might sleep differently.
The Safety Restraint Blanket is still under development, but in view of the fact that autonomous vehicles are very much on the horizon, it won’t be long before a more detailed, tested, and validated version of this will begin being implemented. “You need to figure out how you won’t be injured by things,” Jakobsson said. “It’s definitely keeping us busy.”
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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