“For example, the system reacts if the truck leaves its lane or gets too close to another vehicle and there’s a risk of a collision. In the latter case, the driver is warned via a signal. If the driver doesn’t react, the truck brakes by itself,” she explains.
Agneta reveals that a major challenge in her work is to develop effective systems that are able to warn drivers in good time.
“There are so many unexpected things that happen in road traffic today,” she says. “When a vehicle suddenly brakes on a straight stretch of road for no reason, for instance. It’s important for our system to be able to handle situations like that.”
At the same time, it’s also important for the system not to interfere unnecessarily.
“The signals must be activated when there’s a real danger present. If the system gives out warnings when not needed, that irritates drivers,” she says, before explaining that a lot of her work involves programming the control unit that handles data from the sensors so that the system interprets its surrounding environment correctly.
“The system must react to things that are relevant, like other road users,” she continues. “If it reacts to other irrelevant things in the surrounding environment it becomes confusing for the driver.”
Agneta finds that one of the most exciting elements of her job is that she can relate it to her own everyday experience.
“I spend plenty of time on the roads myself and I can see how important it is to work preventively when it comes to safety. On the one hand in order to prevent truck drivers from being hurt in single-vehicle accidents, and on the other to ensure trucks aren’t involved in accidents with other road users. Generally speaking, a collision between a truck and car is very serious for the driver and passengers in the car,” she points out.
Agneta started working at the Volvo Group in 1989. At first, she worked on research in areas such as signal processing. When, a little while later, she was asked whether she wanted to focus on safety within product development, she didn’t hesitate.
“I was given the opportunity to select a team to work together. And we’ve been going ever since,” she says, adding that it’s when working with her team that she’s at her happiest.
“It’s brilliant to work with such committed and skilled people. We have fun together, and that means we also get results,” she says.
Looking forward, Agneta believes that she and her colleagues will have to do some rethinking in respect of warning systems.
“At the moment, it’s a support system for the driver, but as ever more autonomous, self-driving vehicles develop, systems will have to be developed that are able to co-exist with other road users and handle more complicated situations in traffic,” she clarifies.