“I’m driven by being able to do good for society”

Having completed a PhD in vehicle safety, Fredrik Törnvall joined the Volvo Group’s safety research and development team just over ten years ago. He admits that he was and continues to be driven by the opportunity to make a positive impact on society and humanity.
Fredrik Törnvall

Fredrik first studied civil engineering, completing his Masters thesis focusing on noise reduction in passenger vehicles. He is now more than ten years into his career at Volvo Group Trucks Technology, where he is a Level 3 Technology Specialist in collision compatibility – a role he has held for the last five years.

“I didn’t really enjoy civil engineering and quickly found myself taking a greater interest in issues linked to automotive engineering,“ recalls Fredrik. “I was working at the assembly line at Volvo Trucks when I heard about a PhD opening at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. The topic sounded interesting so I jumped at the opportunity.”

Fredrik’s PhD focused on improving the biodynamic properties of a specific crash test dummy to make it more humanlike in oblique collision situations – and his research led him into a role with the Volvo Group’s research and development team for passive safety. Passive safety includes all the features that help to minimize injuries to occupants of vehicles and other road users, in the event of an accident, such as seatbelts and airbags, while the term active safety typically refers to systems that actively help prevent accidents from happening.

Looking back, Fredrik he has never regretted his decision to get involved in this field:

“There’s so much work still to be done when it comes to passive safety in the truck segment,” he explains. “Whereas safety systems for cars are heavily driven by regulations and consumer ratings, there are fewer regulations and no consumer ratings for trucks. It is a challenge to apply the thinking of passive safety that exists within the passenger car industry to the truck industry.

Being able to do good for society is a huge reason why I continue to be motivated and passionate about working with safety

Whereas many of Fredrik’s colleagues work with collision safety – or protecting the people in the truck – Fredrik is a collision compatibility specialist, which means he focuses on protecting the other road users – meaning those outside the truck. According to the Volvo Accident Research Team, ART, a majority of those killed or seriously injured in accidents involving a truck are outside the truck; 10 to 20 percent are inside the truck, while 50 to 55 percent are in cars, and 30 to 35 percent are unprotected road users.

“Being able to do good for society is a huge reason why I continue to be motivated and passionate about working with safety,” says Fredrik.

With his academic background, Fredrik has been instrumental in driving many of the Volvo Group’s scientific research projects in passive safety. He is also an active member of SAFER, a competence center hosted by Chalmers in which 38 partners from the Swedish automotive industry, academia and authorities are collaborating to create a center of excellence in the field of traffic safety and safe mobility. SAFER’s bold objective is “zero injuries in road traffic”.

“As long as people are still being injured and killed on our roads, there’s no room for complacency. I look forward to continuing this important work in the years to come,” Fredrik concludes.

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