Volvo, Google Partnership Boosts Safety Through VolvoCars.OS

Volvo and Google are partnering to create VolvoCars.OS, a new operating system for the automaker's upcoming electric vehicles. (Volvo Car USA)

Volvo's Tech Moment event this week gave the automaker a chance to introduce the world to a few of its new ideas, including a new vehicle operating system and a shorter turn-around time for updating safety and autonomous features.

One big announcement was for VolvoCars.OS, a new name for the different software components of the vehicle operating system that Volvo will use in its upcoming electric vehicles. This operating system will allow the automaker to be more responsive to its customers and enhance security, but those are just two aspects of the company's new way of thinking about the lines of code that give life to modern vehicles.

Volvo Cars already has a partnership with Google, and the two companies said this week they will expand the deal to future electric cars so that users have a "simple, serene and seamless Volvo user experience," both inside and outside the vehicle. Volvo said the collaboration will "take infotainment and connectivity to the next level" on its upcoming EVs.

Up until this point, the Volvo-Google relationship marked the first time an automaker used an in-car infotainment system powered by Android Automotive OS. This is different from the Android Auto compatibility that many cars have today, and it integrates Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Play into the car's software.

VolvoCars.OS also adds a novel approach to how the in-car display works. As you might expect from Volvo, one of the marquee features of VolvoCars.OS is safety. The way this plays out on the infotainment screen, Volvo said, is through a "clear split of information," where the driver sees things that are more relevant to vehicle operation, such as vehicle speed and battery levels, while the passenger is presented with other information.

Volvo also announced another safety upgrade during the Tech Moment, this one focused on connected technologies. To improve safety, Volvo's next generation of cars will be able to – with customer permission – share vehicle sensor data with the automaker in real time. Volvo will then use the data to validate its autonomous drive features, and that will, in turn, allow the automaker to validate the technology and update vehicles with additional features quicker than if it had to keep relying on its internal testing to collect information.

"With help from real-life data we can speed up our development processes and go from years to days," Ödgärd Andersson, CEO at Zenseact, Volvo Cars' autonomous driving software arm, said in a statement. "As real-time collection generates a lot more data, we can create better and higher-quality data sets that allow us to make better and quicker decisions on the next advancements in safety. We're taking a giant leap to increase safety in and around our cars."

Once finalized, Volvo can send new autonomous and safety features to its connected cars through over-the-air updates. Volvo said its upcoming all-electric SUV, based on the recently unveiled Concept Recharge, will be the first to take advantage of this new technology.

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