2017 Volvo S90 Comes With Animal Detection & Its Own Version Of Autopilot

December 3, 2015

The Volvo S90 has at last been unveiled, and among the sedan's luxe offerings are a couple of features that should appeal to tech-loving shoppers.

While the plug-in hybrid powertrain is undoubtedly interesting, it's the S90's "Pilot Assist" option that really got our attention. Whether it's as advanced as Tesla's highly hyped Autopilot remains to be seen, but either way, it's an important step in the direction of self-driving vehicles. 

Pilot Assist is a variation on Volvo's "road train" technology, which allows Volvo owners to join convoys of similarly equipped vehicles. Once embedded in a convoy, the road train system lets drivers sit back and enjoy the ride, so long as all the cars in the convoy move at highway speeds.

Pilot Assist, however, allows the S90 to operate on its own, without following or communicating with other vehicles, and it works at speeds up to 130 kmh (81 mph). It's unclear whether drivers will be able to take their hands off the wheel entirely: Volvo only says that Pilot Assist "gives gentle steering inputs to keep the car properly aligned within lane markings".

The S90 sedan will also include a feature that Volvo has been working on for years: animal detection. If the car spots an animal in the roadway, it will warn the driver and provide some automated braking to avoid a collision. The system appears targeted toward larger animals like deer and horses, though, so it may not keep your neighbor's free-range cocker spaniel entirely safe. 

We'll know more about the S90 -- which is expected to debut as a 2017 model, even though Volvo has described it as a 2016 car -- when it's unveiled in Detroit this January at the North American International Auto Show. In the meantime, check out the short preview video above.

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