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Volvo goes to heart of safety

Published:Sunday | October 12, 2014 | 10:00 AM

Swedish multinational automaker Volvo has pushed the envelope of safety to develop a motor vehicle that can detect an intruder's heartbeat from inside the car.

The system, dubbed the personal car communicator, allows drivers to use their key fob to remotely check for anyone lurking in the rear seat. The intruder is detected by their heartbeat.

Aiming to further enhance the Swedish automaker's reputation for safety, the technology premiered in 2007 on the Volvo S80, the brand's flagship sedan, and has been offered since on all models except the S40, V50 and C30.

However, the option was expected to disappear for the 2011 model year according to Volvo North America, since no one was using the function. The race to be at the top of the automobile industry has shown up the flaw of how automakers can misjudge what buyers want.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that this system would have been heavily criticised. One such scoff made at the technology is the likelihood that axe murderers would be hiding inside the vehicle to attack a motorist.

Ridiculed by writers

"Has someone at Volvo been renting slasher thrillers at Netflix?" Automobile magazine Motor Trend had asked in 2006, while reviewer Mark Phelan, writing in the Detroit Free Press, called the feature "spooky" and suggested that Volvo should have called it the "Urban Myth Detector".

It does not appear that any other automobile manufacturer has developed a technology of this nature. Suggestions are being made that a tech be developed to help parents avoid leaving children inside their vehicles.

- C. B.