Volvo's EX90 electric SUV set for debut on Nov. 9 will be the first vehicle on sale with a new monitoring system designed to detect the faintest movements, such as those of a sleeping toddler, across the entirety of the interior, including the trunk.
The system relies on radar sensors mounted around the cabin—in the overhead console and roof-mounted reading lamps, as well as in the trunk—and is able to detect sub-millimeter movement. It can then warn a vehicle's owner if a child or pet has been left behind, which could save lives on a hot day.
Last year, 23 children in the U.S. died from heat stroke after being left in vehicles, according to Kids and Cars, a nonprofit focused on preventing injuries and death of children, as well as pets, in and around vehicles. Not every case is simply a parent or care giver forgetting. In some cases, children gained access to vehicles and became trapped while they were unattended.
The system is activated every time the owner attempts to lock the vehicle, and determines whether the vehicle is empty of people or pets before it applies the lock. If the vehicle fails to lock, a warning display will show up on the infotainment screen reminding the owner to check the vehicle for occupants. The system can also switch on the climate control to make the cabin comfortable should any people or pets be detected inside.
Volvo EX90 teased ahead of Nov. 9 debut
Toyota announced a similar system in May, though Toyota's version is still in the concept phase.
Volvo will eventually roll out the system across its lineup, though only in markets where the specific frequency used by the system is approved for automotive use. The 60-ghz wave the system uses has been approved for use in the U.S. for other automotive occupant monitoring systems.
It has also been confirmed that the EX90 has will be available with a driver monitor that uses radar sensors and cameras to look for signs of distraction. This system has been designed to enable a vehicle to come to a safe stop should it notice the driver fall ill or asleep.
The EX90 is Volvo's electric successor to the XC90. It's due on sale in 2023 and will be built at a plant in Charleston, South Carolina, for North American markets. The plant will also build a related Polestar 3 electric SUV.