Monday, November 2, 2020

Volvo's "CSI" Team Has Been on the Job for 50 Years


At Volvo Cars, they are known as the company’s in-house detectives. Yet they could also be called the Swedish car maker’s own CSI team, with a little twist on the acronym of TV fame.

The crash scene investigators of the Volvo Car Accident Research Team, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, are ready around the clock to make sure that Volvo Cars learns from real-life accidents and constantly improves its cars.

The team has been in operation since 1970. Whenever an accident involving a Volvo occurs around Gothenburg, Sweden, be it night or day, they quickly get to the scene when notified. As they arrive, they start an investigation and document the sequence of events as detailed as possible.


That means asking questions. How forceful was the impact? How quickly did the active safety systems intervene? How are the passengers? Other questions include: What was the weather like? What was the time? In what condition were the road markings?

The work continues back at the office: the team requests publicly accessible police reports, contacts the driver and examines the car when possible. The team also tries to understand how the driver experienced the accident, a process that involves the Volvo Cars Safety Center’s behavioral scientists.

Finally, the team will ask the people involved in the accident to share their medical records, which allows them to take note of any injuries sustained. These are analyzed by biomechanics experts, in cooperation with physicists, to understand the exact causes of the injury.


All the data and knowledge collected is coded and depersonalized. Conclusions from this research are shared with Volvo’s product development teams, who use it to develop and implement new technologies in upcoming cars. The team also identifies things that can’t be solved today – allowing Volvo Cars to remain at the forefront of safety development.

Every year, the team investigates around 30-50 accidents in person, but accidents happen all over the world and the scene can be hard to reach on time. In those cases and to the degree possible, the detectives work to map out accidents with the support from Volvo personnel and emergency services closer to the site.

On top of that, the team also uses other sources of information such as public accident databases found globally to make sure that the necessary steps are taken.

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