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Volvo exploring range of connected car services as it maps out future role within smart cities

Volvo has unveiled the latest phase of its connected car road map having rolled out a 1,000-strong pilot fleet designed to alert drivers to road safety conditions and feed that information to other cars and road safety authorities via the cloud.

Speaking to the Drum at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Volvo’s group chief information officer Klas Bendrik said the XC90 models form the latest step in its ongoing ambition to forge a prominent role within the infrastructure of smart cities.

“We are using cloud-based technology to enhance safety and environment by communicating road friction information between cars and also between cars and city infrastructures.”

The cars will send signals via sensors in the tyres through to the driver’s dashboard to alert them when road conditions are icy or slippery, and will then feed back the information to warn other cars taking the same route via the cloud.

This information can also be fed back to local road authorities to help them prepare for hazardous road conditions, according to Bendrik.

“We can communicate aggregated and anonymous data to the traffic authorities and using that they can optimise how to handle the road conditions – so if there is snow they know that it needs removing or that more salt or gravel needs to be laid – they can have that real time data.”

This form of “connected safety” will secure Volvo’s position as a valuable contributor within the smart city environment, according to Bendrik.

Given the ability of the cars to provide information that will likely help prevent road collisions this could trigger changes in to the current model of insuranceproviders, in the same way that driverless cars are due to, but Bendrik stressed there were more opportunities here than challenges.

He added: “Our ambition is to provide a great experience to our end customers in and around our vehicles, and we are leveraging connectivity as one of the core foundations of that see connectivity when it comes to the infotainment within the vehicles, and convenience solutions like remote cooling and heating of your car but also the new dimension coming up – connected safety –and that will be a very important part of us now exploring what the network society is all about.

"When it comes to these kinds of innovations it is important for us within Volvo to be leading the development in connected cars and society,” he added.

Volvo has previously outlined its plans to create a fleet of pilot driverless cars by 2017, and although the tests will be in Sweden Bendrik did not rule out a potential UK launch.

"The trial in Gothenburg is one way of showcasing how autonomous driving vehicles will be used in a normal city environment – when it comes to other cities like the UK it is highly interesting – but we are starting in Gothenburg before leveraging it elsewhere."

See more coverage from Mobile World Congress at The Drum's dedicated hub.

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