Volvo developing driver-facing cameras

They'll be capable of detecting the driver, his mood and biometrics

Volvo Drive Me cameras
  • Volvo Drive Me cameras
  • Volvo Drive Me cameras
  • Image Credit: Volvo
  • Volvo Drive Me cameras
  • Volvo Drive Me cameras
  • Volvo Drive Me camera
UPDATE: Volvo responded to Autoblog a day after this was originally published, with a spokesman saying, "These technologies and features are only at concept stage and may only be commercialized as customer options in the future."

Volvo is reportedly developing an in-car camera capable of monitoring the driver's behavior and certain health metrics, and be able to tell which family member is behind the wheel to adjust vehicle settings accordingly. Just when they'll be available in new vehicles isn't entirely clear.

CAR magazine in the U.K. spilled the beans via an interview with Volvo's chief digital officer, Atif Rafiq. "They're very advanced these days," he told the outlet. "They can determine a driver's glucose levels by looking at their pupils, so could call a loved one or hospital if it detected a health problem. Cars will understand your state and de-stress you on your way back from work."

Exactly when Volvo plans to roll out these cameras commercially is unclear. CAR quotes Rafiq as saying the cameras "will become an option in our cars in 2019." But the company later sent a statement to LeftLane News saying, in part, that "Volvo Cars does not have any plans for driver-facing cameras or related features this year." Autoblog sought further clarification from Volvo but did not hear back.

Nevertheless, Volvo has been working on driver-facing cameras for years, partly through the behavior-monitoring cameras used in the development of its autonomous XC90 Drive Me project. The company plans to have a fully self-driving car available by 2021. Such cameras would also be able to know whether, say, a husband or his wife is driving the car and adjust settings for things like climate control, audio volume, Google apps and seat position to suit the operator's tastes, similar to Mercedes-Benz's new MBUX User Experience Interface, which is based on artificial intelligence. Whether Volvo's cameras similarly meld with AI isn't clear.

For the record, Volvo believes it will be able to sidestep concerns about invasions of privacy by keeping footage anonymous and not sharing it. So it's totally not Big Brother spying on you. And all your Facebook data is totally private, too. These aren't the droids you're looking for.

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