Pioneering the Future of Driving

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By Jenny Xie / Published by Dwell
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Presented by Volvo Car USA
Rooted in Scandinavian design and a leader in safety technology, Volvo sets its course for fully autonomous vehicles that will transform what it means to be on the road.

As commute times lengthen, the car is increasingly becoming an extension of the home. It’s a liminal space between point A and point B: both nowhere in particular and everywhere around you. As such, it makes sense that advocates of modern design demand the same clarity of form and ease of function for their cars as they do for their homes.

Since 1927, Volvo has brought Scandinavia’s tenets of good design to the automotive industry. Its cars put the user first, making it safer, easier, and more enjoyable to drive. Not only does Volvo evolve to meet modern demands—the company anticipates them, pioneering the future of driving. With a vision that by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo, the car maker is developing advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous drive (AD) systems that will dominate tomorrow’s roads. Semi-autonomous driving is already a standard feature in both the XC90 SUV and S90 sedan—and next year, Volvo’s Drive Me project will hand over 100 fully autonomous cars to drivers in Gothenburg, Sweden.

For Volvo owner Mauri Okamoto-Kearney, the car is a natural progression of her minimal home in the hills of Los Altos, California. "There seems to be an alignment of the car with my house because there are some aspects to this house that are very Scandinavian in design—a clean, uncluttered, light living," she says. "It’s not just design of cabinets and railings and furniture; it’s how we live." By the same token, the Volvo S90 luxury sedan is more than the sum of its parts. It powers Okamoto-Kearney’s new lifestyle, which allows her to trade her work briefcase for active wear, and that prioritizes simplicity and self-determination.

"At Volvo, we’re thinking a lot about what smart cars are going to be in the future," says Tisha Johnson, senior director of design at the Volvo North America Monitoring and Concept Center, "and for us, we always begin with the person." Thanks to Pilot Assist II, the XC90 and S90 models accelerate, decelerate, stop, and steer on roads with clear lane markings while traveling at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. As the task of driving is delegated to AD technology, automotive travel becomes safer and more relaxing—more, in other words, like being at home.

Dwell’s associate editor Luke Hopping had the opportunity to drive a Volvo S90 in Malaga, Spain, experiencing firsthand the innovative technologies that guide the vehicle. "What’s important is that you have all your environments be supportive of your lifestyle," says Hopping. "Now, because so much of our life is spent behind the wheel, we want a little bit more luxury...and support and stability from places outside the home."