Volvo opens proving ground for next-gen car technology

August 21, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Future vehicles won't roll along alone but will collaborate electronically with other cars. To test next-generation vehicle and traffic technology, Volvo has launched its AstaZero proving ground near Gothenburg in Sweden.

AstaZero enables engineers to test their vehicles in a broad range of potential traffic situation. On an area of 2 million square metres, the site includes rural roads, a city area, multilane roads and a high-speed area for tests related to vehicle dynamics like avoidance manoeuvres at high speed. The site is encircled by a 5.7 km highway. The rural road is designed for tests involving the use of hidden or suddenly appearing obstacles. The city area will be used in the first place to test the vehicle's capability to interact with other vehicles or bicycles and pedestrians as well as infrastructure objects.

The primary focus for driving tests on the compound is on active safety systems, Volvo said. "Safety testing under realistic circumstances is a prerequisite for developing active safety systems", said Anders Axelson of Volvo Car Safety Centre. "The facility will play several important roles: not only will it help us meet our safety vision, developing cars that don't crash, it will also help us further develop safety functions that will address non-motorists, such as pedestrians and cyclists.”

Technologies to be tested at AstaZero include systems that aim at preventing accidents through inattentiveness and driver fatigue. Besides active safety technology, the Swedish carmaker will also test technologies and systems aiming at autonomous driving. The test site which cost Volvo the sum of 500 million SEK, serves as an open platform for all kinds of interested stakeholders like vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, legislators, government agencies, academia and technical institutes.