The Volvo EX90 Will Either Be The ‘Safest Volvo Ever’ Or Will Help The Machines Win


Volvo’s next flagship vehicle will be the Volvo EX90, an all-electric SUV in the mold of the current XC90 with more sensor technology than ever before seen on one of their production cars. Specifically, the company says “the EX90 to be the safest Volvo car to ever hit the road.” It’ll be a smart, computing-intensive car that’ll make decisions for you. This is consistent with Volvo’s mission and it’s only mildly disturbing that their way of convincing us to give over our cars to smart computers is to subtly invoke The Matrix.

The EX90 won’t debut until November 9th, but some of the details are included in a series of Shingy-esque press releases that include a lot of sections like “Understanding the human experience” and “a watchful guardian.”

Specifically, there’s stuff like:

So what can you expect in our new Volvo EX90? It’s a car designed to understand you and its surroundings to help keep you, your loved ones and others in traffic safe. It can also get smarter and safer over time, as it learns from new data and receives updates.

The development of our latest safety technology is based on understanding human behaviour, rooted in decades of our own and others’ safety research. Every one of us is likely to experience or be affected by at least one car crash in our lifetime.

That’s not a judgment: we know that most of the time you’re a great driver, alert and ready to act when needed. But we’re all humans, and that also means to experience emotions.

Emphasis mine. The press release goes out of the way to remind us that Volvo is made of people and not robots trying to bring about the end of human free will. This is maybe because the new LIDAR-equipped Volvo EX90 will have five radars, eight cameras, and 16 ultrasonic sensors. Very cool. Can’t wait to try it out.

It would be way less, creepy, though, if they didn’t share a video of little drone orbs forming a car and then forming a face in a way that’s pretty much exactly like the bad guy at the end of Matrix Revolutions.

Here’s the drone face:


The whole talking-in-a-computer generated background thing doesn’t help either.

Hopefully, the new vehicle doesn’t try to destroy humanity and turn us into dreaming Duracells and ideally it looks something like the Recharge concept:

Recharge Concept

Though, these leaked patent drawings seem to suggest something a little more low-key:

Volvo Ex90 Patent

Either way, we’ll learn a lot more about the EX90 in a couple of months.


Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit

18 Responses

  1. Psych says… you can never be.. safe enough. Theres nothing stopping anything from going AWWWWW SHIIIIIIIIIT…. in any single second of every single day… forever.

    Safety.. there is no absolute.

  2. Being a human, my “emotion” is to wonder if somehow the engineers and programmers at Volvo are somehow superior humans to me. After all, if I can make mistakes while driving — and heaven knows, I have — can they not make mistakes, too? Or have they so perfected coping with conditions, steering the vehicle where I want it to go and controlling all its functions that they are infallible?

    At the end of the day, either the nut sitting at the computer or the nut behind the wheel are going to have to drive the thing. For obvious reasons, I pick ME for the role.

    1. That’s not quite a fair comparison. The code isn’t going to be perfect or divinely inspired or whatever, but a human driver reacting incorrectly in a split second crisis decision is not the same as a developer missing a comma.

      If these were billed as drones being controlled from Torslanda, then sure, you’re merely shifting the failure point.

      Not that I’ll likely be in the market for one of these. I’m going to go ahead and assume the automation will push the MSRP even further from what seems reasonable to me

      1. I think it’s fair. Someone has to drive, after all, and a “missing comma” can wipe you out just as easily as your own poor decision.

        Think: Tesla “FSD.” I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I have yet to make a wrong turn onto a one-way street. Or arbitrarily come to a dead stop in the middle of a highway lane for no reason.

        1. My point with the missing comma is that production software does/can/should go through testing and debugging, so while not automatically infallible and definitely subject to the rigor of the developers, it’s not falling asleep at the wheel or getting distracted by a phone/child/loose water bottle/etc.

          Different sets of challenges, and I’m skeptical generally of autonomous driving, but it is different

        2. Don’t hear me defending Tesla FSD. I hate it. But a few isolated accidents are also perpetrated by people. While it may not be specifically you, plenty of people have made these mistakes. Just watch an Idiots in Cars video

  3. Hoping they go with the Embla (or other name-name) instead of EX90 (and why is that better than XC90, or XC9E?) for the model name, though that seems unfortunately unlikely.

    1. There was a report that Volvo was going with names for EVs a while back, but they may have changed their minds. I thought it was strange, since every Volvo I can think of has had an alphanumeric name, save for the Amazon (which would be a hard name to resurrect).

      I agree with you that EX90 is silly, especially when their current EVs are the XC40 and C40. I don’t get this drive by some manufacturers to dump historic names for bland alphanumeric. ID.3, bZX4, EV6? Why not Golf ID, RAV-4E, and any name that’s less generic than EV6?

      1. The bZ4x makes my head hurt every time I try to remember “the Toyota EV name”.

        Not sure what any of these manufactures think the draw of these coded letter number combos are

  4. My Volvo 66 GL makes decisions for me all the time to questions such as “Will we reach our destination without towing assistance?” and “Is it time to track down more oddball parts from the Netherlands?” but I’m not convinced this a selling point.

  5. I reject safety as the overwhelming number one priority of all things. Furthermore, most “safety” is about feeling safe, vs. actually being safe. Since humans are bad at calculating risk to themselves and their property, they often cannot distinguish the difference.

    Is safety important? Yes, and I want to be safe, up to the level where the safety tax is so large that it impacts my life negatively. An extreme example is going everywhere in a kevlar vest or worse yet, not going anywhere. How much agency are you willing to cede to an entity (government, partner, corporation) that promises to keep you safe? I don’t trust Volvo or any other nebulous organization to understand my priorities, desires, or needs, or even to accurately assess my risks.

    “I only have one life so I want to be safe” is less compelling than “I only have one life so I want to live it fully”.

    1. ‘Unintentional injury’ (mainly car crashes) is the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 44 and arguably one of the causes that you have the least control over. In this case the best option for “actually being safe” would be not driving, but driving a safe car vs an unsafe car would be the next best option. Cars might be one of the few areas where making safety the overwhelming priority can really pay off (what’s the quality of life difference between walking away from a wreck with minor injury vs being permanently disabled). I definitely agree that i’m not ready to hand over driving to some self driving artificial intelligence entity that hasn’t been tested in all the real world situations one it likely to encounter, but it’s hard to argue that safety improvements like better crash structures, automatic braking, airbags, and seatbelts somehow prevent us from living our lives fully.

      1. If a car is just transportation, then I get your point.

        If you actually enjoy driving, the difference between being chauffeured by a modern nanny-mobile and piloting an analog human-controlled machine could make a large difference in your quality of life. And it is worth the risk.

        1. That… is the problem. People do not like to drive.. they like to be staring down at their devices.

          THIS.. is why we are being led down the path of no recourse!

          Also…. how do you knowingly get into a vehicle with no driver.. and get out as a passenger, with no concept of whats been going on.

Leave a Reply