Volvo EX90 as XC90 successor: Self-driving and two-way

Volvo EX90 as XC90 successor: Self-driving and two-way

On the roof of the EX90, whose names without numbers and other abbreviations were discussed, has a lidar sensor (Light Detection and Ranging) from the American specialist Luminar Technologies. The company also works with Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan and Volvo subsidiary Polestar. Eight cameras, five radar devices and 16 ultrasonic sensors support the lidar. Volvo wants to process their signals using a basic computer and smart software. The Geely subsidiary is working with Nvidia on the mainframe and software.

In terms of equipment, Volvo sees the EX90 equipped with fully automatic driving; Initially, the new flagship should use technology for support systems. The manufacturer wants to reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents by up to 20 percent. On the way to the company’s vision, according to which no one should be killed or seriously injured in the new Volvo, the manufacturer wants to develop the car more and more towards autonomous driving and further development of software through over-the-air updates. . Already at the beginning of series production, the Level 3 EX90 should be able to handle higher speeds on the road than the Driver Pilot from Mercedes.

Nothing works without lidar

The heart of the new security technology is the lidar sensor. It uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distance with great accuracy and precision. This allows risks to be identified early. A luminar sensor on the roof of the EX90 detects pedestrians up to 250 meters away. Even small and dark objects like a tire on a dark road are detected at a distance of 120 meters. Unlike cameras, the technology does not depend on light and works as reliably at night as during the day.

According to Volvo, studies show that with lidar technology on board, the number of accidents with deaths and serious injuries can be reduced by up to 20 percent. Overall collisions can be reduced by up to nine percent (the frequency of incidents is based on the Traffic Accident Database of Volvo cars).

Safe Volvo so far

Volvo wants to create the gap more safely through a combination of sensors, proprietary software and core computers. The result is a car that detects more threats than ever before, both inside and outside.

“We believe the Volvo EX90 is the safest Volvo ever to hit the road,” says Joachim de Verdier, Head of Safe Driving at Volvo Cars. “We connect the environment outside the car with our deep understanding of driver awareness. When all our safety systems, sensors, software and computing power come together, they create a protective shield around the driver – and they won’t even know it’s there until they need it. “

Always keep an eye on the driver

However, the new EX90 will not only look out for its surroundings, it will also keep an eye on the driver. The driver monitoring system uses two cameras and other internal sensors to monitor behavior in real time. For example, attention is paid to how and where the driver is currently looking. Is he staring intently at the road, betraying his “cognitive disorder”? Are you looking at the latest WhatsApp messages on your smartphone for a long time? What? do you still have a firm grip on the steering wheel? The monitoring system registers all this and, if in doubt, can intervene with the response cascade. Starting with an acoustic warning signal, the power of which increases, the autonomous intervention of the car technology goes so far if there is doubt that the car is driving on the side of the road itself, it stops there and activates the hazard warning lights. In addition to inattentive, tired or ill-health drivers, the system should also detect drunk driving.

“We monitor where the driver is looking and how often and for how long their eyes are closed,” says Emma Tivesten, Senior Technical Specialist at Volvo’s Automotive Safety Center. “This allows us to learn a lot about their current state of mind and health. Based on the results of our research, the sensor system detects if the driver’s performance is impaired by drowsiness, distraction or other forms of inattention and provides additional assistance as appropriate.”

These two cameras do not produce real images, but “translate” optical observations into machine-readable language. Information from the driver monitoring system is stored in the car’s black box for a certain period of time and can also be read after an accident if in doubt. Volvo itself, according to Emma Tivesten when asked, does not receive this information.

First look at the Volvo EX90

The first images from the patent application show what the upcoming EX90 looks like. Now you specify the structure that was already presented by the study “Recharge”. Unlike a concept car, the EX90 has a clear SUV layout. The front light units extend further towards the front and flank the closed grille. The front hood is difficult to pronounce, the windshield is flat, the slope of the roof is only slightly behind. Heavy beading can be seen on the side, although the lower window line appears almost horizontal. The relationship with research can also be seen in the background.

The EX90 is the first model built on the revised SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform. The SPA2 allows short overhangs, a flat car floor and is equipped with batteries from LG Chem and CATL. With the market launch, the electric SUV should also have autonomous driving functions according to Level 4, according to legal and national requirements. In addition, the lidar technology from the cooperation partner Luminar and the “Nvidia Drive Orin” system-on-a-chip (SoC) are used.

Volvo EX90 with 408 hp

The third-generation XC90 will be built alongside the Polestar 3 at the Volvo Car USA plant in South Carolina. The SUV is also produced in China. Technical data is not yet known. For example, the EX90 could have a 100 kWh battery at market launch, which is good for a range of 450 to 480 km. In line with the Polestar 2, the four-wheel drive should produce at least 408 hp and 600 Nm of torque. The battery in the car floor should have a capacity of more than 100 kWh.

Dual charging at home too

Volvo wants its customers to use the large memory in their electric car for purposes other than just driving. EX90 owners should “be part of the energy transition”. The rechargeable battery and battery management are designed from scratch to provide three-phase power. In the first step, the EX90 converts the direct current from its battery back to the alternating current and can, for example, send it to the home wall box. For home solutions with solar systems and stationary storage, Volvo developer Lutz Stiegler also considers direct current solutions to be feasible and reasonable because solar cells and batteries work with direct current. However, compatible wall boxes are still very expensive at the moment, which is why the EX90 provides an alternative. This should also make it possible to contribute electricity to other Volvos. Adapters for 230 volt consumers are also planned, as are Volvo wall boxes and energy management software.

The software should not only enable Volvo customers to charge smartly when electricity prices are low, but also feed energy into the home network if the solar system on the roof is not producing anything at night, for example. Of course, the software only provides windows of charge levels that do not damage the battery and leave the EX90 range sufficient. Developer Lutz Stiegler dispels concerns about long battery life: Experience with compatible batteries has been gained since 2013; The main point of aging for regular customers (apart from “taxi drivers or sales representatives”) is the calendar. In 15 years, to put it simply, the battery can reach 150,000 or 500,000 kilometers. In this regard, it makes a lot of sense to close more charge cycles in the service life and charging pulses controlled by software do not damage the battery.

The fact that two-way charging has not yet been introduced is due to the law in many countries: Network electricity storage systems have so far been mostly defined as stationary, mobile cannot be authorized. If legal requirements are slow to come, Volvo is ready. The standard (ISO 15118) for dual charging is still in its infancy, but almost all car manufacturers are committed.

The Volvo XC90 may continue to exist until 2030

Similar to Porsche and the Macan with its new electric version, Volvo will also take a two-pronged approach. On the one hand there is the EX90 in an electric version only. On the other hand, the SUV is offered alongside a combustion engine – albeit only as a plug-in hybrid. This was confirmed by former Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson to Automotive News. “Why not stop production of the XC90 when there is still demand for hybrids, especially in the US and China?” asked Volvo’s outgoing boss. The XC90 continues to roll off the assembly line in Torslanda, Sweden.

By 2030, the Swedish carmaker wants to convert its product range to electric models, and from 2025 the Swedes will convert the Torslanda plant to electric vehicles. Until then, the XC90 with a combustion engine may remain in production.

The Volvo XC90 facelift is coming

The current version of the XC90 has been available since 2015 and is the second generation of the SUV. The model has been selling regularly in Germany in recent years. Since 2016, registrations have been – sometimes significantly – more than 6,000 vehicles per year. By comparison, the XC90 sold more than 41,000 in the United States in 2021.

However, customers can no longer expect a breakthrough in the configuration of the Swedish SUV. According to Samuelsson, the facelift is coming in the coming years, and there are no plans for a train update. The model will probably only be available as an XC90 Recharge plug-in hybrid in the future. This has an electric range of 70 km and has a 455 hp powertrain. The price currently starts (as of August 2022) at 77,300 euros. Under certain conditions, the developers are still improving the range, usability and performance a little.

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In addition to the electric EX90, Volvo will also continue to develop the XC90 as a plug-in version. After all, the SUV can still generate significant sales in some markets. In doing so, Volvo is mimicking Porsche, among others, who continue to put the regular-powered Macan alongside the electric Macan. But the days of combustion engine sidekicks are numbered. By 2030 at the latest, Volvo will offer only electric models. The Swedish factory where the XC90 rolls off the assembly line will be converted to e-mobility as early as 2025.