“My job is to save lives”

Anna Theander is passionate about safety and is the head of Volvo Group’s Accident Research Team. “The future in the field of safety looks bright,” she says.

Anna Theander, Accident Research Team Leader at Group Trucks Technology, Volvo Group

What does your job involve?
My job is all about safety as I am head of the Accident Research Team. We investigate and analyze accidents in real life. The members of my team go to actual scenes of accidents to truly understand what has happened and perform in-depth analysis of the course of events. In addition, we investigate how new technologies, such as automation, can improve safety.

What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
I work in the field of traffic safety: we prevent accidents, reduce injuries and ultimately save lives. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the inception of the Accident Research Team. It all began when we started to investigate accidents involving trucks in Sweden, in order understand why these accidents occurred. The accumulated knowledge from accident research is valuable input for us when developing even safer and more ergonomic trucks for the future.

The scope is wider today and the methods have been refined, but the main objective remains. It is all about avoiding accidents and build a safer future. To achieve the vision of zero accidents with our products, it is important for us to understand all aspects of traffic safety.

Is collaboration an important part of your work?
We are collaborating with the Swedish Transport Administration, rescue services, dealers and sometimes the police. Internally we have a cross-disciplinary team of ten experts in their fields with whom I work closely. Our work comes in towards the end of the development process. We pass on the results of our work to the product development teams for them to improve safety even further. So yes, it is very important.

How do we reach the Volvo vision of zero accidents?
To reach the vison of zero accidents, we need to collaborate with external partners and stakeholders. As legislation is introduced to standardise safety systems, I believe that we will come closer to the vision of zero accidents with Volvo Group products.

What are the challenges with your job?
One day I am working with the Swedish Transport Administration, inspecting a truck that has been in an accident. The next day I am involved in discussions about new European legislation in the field of safety, so my tasks are very varied. That is the biggest challenge in my job, but it is also what makes it so enjoyable.

How do you work with safety and automation?
When we develop autonomous systems, they must fulfil the high safety standards we have set within safety. Of course, they can bring major benefits in a driver’s everyday work and be an advantage in workplaces where drivers may be put at risk. However, it is important to remember that drivers prevent more accidents than they cause, and we need to consider every aspect of traffic safety in our development of autonomous solutions.

What does the future hold for safety?
The future in the field of safety looks bright. Safety is fundamental when it comes to automation, and we will be pushed to develop even more sophisticated safety systems. The Accident Research Team will continue to provide important insights and contribute to proactively improve road safety – for traditional human drivers as well as for new autonomous vehicles.

FACT BOX
Name:
Anna Theander
Title: Accident Research Team Leader at Group Trucks Technology, Volvo Group
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Education/Qualifications: M.Sc. Electrical Engineering

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