In addition to a stellar new concept vehicle – Volvo’s recent ‘Tech Moment’ press event also provided a glimpse of how Volvo cars will deliver vastly improved functions and features in a proprietary new in-house operating system developed with Google – called VolvoCars.OS.
The next generation of pure electric Volvo models, including the company’s first SUV on a completely new electric-only technology base (the Concept Recharge), will run on Volvo Cars’ own Operating System (OS). In addition to faster development and greater flexibility – the OS will offer over-the-air updates to customer's cars throughout their lifetime.
VolvoCars.OS will act as an umbrella system for electric Volvo cars. It incorporates the company’s various operating systems across the car and the cloud, creating one coherent software OS environment. The underlying operating systems include the Android Automotive OS, QNX, AUTOSAR, and Linux.
Through a variety of application programming interfaces (APIs), including the previously announced Extended Vehicle API, the VolvoCars.OS gives developers access to in-car features such as vehicle sensor data, user interfaces, and cloud-based features such as fleet data, subject to customer consent. This allows developers to create new services and applications for Volvo cars.
To truly benefit from developing software in-house, Volvo Cars is also centralising computing inside its fully electric cars into a core system, removing a lot of complexity. Rather than relying on multiple electronic control units around the car that control individual features and systems, an increasing amount of in-house developed software will run in a powerful core computing system in the car.
The core computing system, which will first be introduced on a new Volvo model set to be revealed in 2022, is made up of three main computers. These support each other in operating vision processing and artificial intelligence, general computing, and infotainment respectively.
The shift to centralized computing also allows Volvo Cars to gradually separate hardware from software. This means the company can introduce more frequent hardware cycles (in newer cars) so that new Volvo models can be equipped with the latest available hardware. Volvo Cars are making the shift to in-house development and central computing, working together with leading technology firms. These include NVIDIA, with whom the company is working on the core systems, and Google, its co-development partner for its infotainment systems.
Volvo Car Group was the first manufacturer to introduce cars with an infotainment system powered by Android Automotive OS with Google Assistant, Google Maps and Google Play built-in. In its next generation of vehicles, Volvo will work even more closely with Google to further integrate Google’s Android Automotive OS and new in-car display system under the VolvoCars.OS umbrella to offer a powerful and yet user-friendly experience to drivers.
According to Volvo, the user experience design is built on a clear split of information for the driver, according to the level of relevance while behind the wheel. A high-resolution driver information screen gives the driver the most relevant information related to driving, such as speed and battery levels. A heads-up-display (HUD) helps keep key information in front of the driver without having to glance away.
Future Volvo cars will also come with a large, centralized touch screen that provides more content, easy-to-see information, and responsive interaction. The guiding design principle is that everything customers need should always be easily accessible, either by touch or by voice command.
The next generation of Volvo cars use your phone as a key and the Volvo Cars app will connect you to everything else that comes with modern life and electric car ownership. Features such as finding and paying for vehicle charging, connecting to your home devices as well as popular remote features already such as pre-heating and –cooling will be just a touch or swipe away on your smartphone.
Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer adds, “Our teams have spent a lot of time with Google to further develop and improve our user experience for the next generation of Volvo cars. Especially in terms of safety, serenity, and simplicity, we have made great strides thanks to a deeper integration of design and technological development.”