Volvo is prepared to install optional in-car cameras to track drivers come 2020. The brand told Car in a Monday report that the cameras will open up a host of new technology benefits, though it recognizes consumer fears over privacy.
Atif Rafiq, Volvo’s chief digital officer, said Volvo will not push the technology on car buyers and proclaimed the in-car cameras will be optional equipment starting in 2020. He noted cameras and monitoring equipment are "very advanced these days." He said the technology can monitor biometrics. For instance, it has the capability to monitor glucose levels via pupil scans, and the data could converge with the car to call a family member or the hospital if the cameras detect a health problem.
Volvo in-car camera monitors
The cameras can also detect stress levels and work with the vehicle to flip on various settings for drivers to relax them as they drive home from, say, a long day at the office, Rafiq added. The overarching goal is to predict health emergencies before they happen.
Volvo has been testing the in-car cameras since 2017 as part of its self-driving car research. The units in prototype self-driving cars, used to track driver behavior as the car drove, helped engineers ready the production units coming next year.
In the future, the cameras could open up a wealth of new technology features. As self-driving technology advances, the cameras could operate video conferencing for passengers. In the near-term, the cameras could identify drivers and operate settings that match the driver. Think of the car automatically tuning climate controls, setting a navigation route, and flipping on a favorite radio station upon entering the car with a quick camera scan.
As for privacy concerns, Rafiq noted all footage will be anonymous, not linked to any particular car, and won't be shared for any reason. We already have smartphones, Google, Facebook, Alexa, and other social media in our lives that monitors our every move. Plus, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, and other automakers already have cameras in cars to monitor drivers for drowsiness. Will consumers buy into a vehicle monitoring system for its potential benefits? That remains to be seen.