“Will no one think of the moths?” That’s the question being asked by Volvo, as it unveils ambitious plans to widen its Vision 2020 promise to protect the billions of moths killed by the motor car.
Håkan Samuelsson, president of CEO of Volvo Cars, said previously: “Our vision is that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.” This vision has led to the development of pedestrian airbags, cyclist detection systems and – more recently – large animal detection technology.
But now, in conjunction with the MASH (Moth Appreciation Society of Hungary), Volvo is testing a number of safety systems designed to reduce the number of moths that die or are seriously injured in road traffic accidents to zero.
In an exclusive visit to Volvo’s testing facility in Gothenburg, PetrolBlog has seen evidence of the various systems being trialled, including a scaled-down version of its famous animal detection system. But rather than recognising the outline of animals – like rhinoceroses and tiger, cats and mink, not to mention lots of other funny animals in all this world – the system can detect a moth in flight.
Volvo is testing a number of different ways to encourage the kamikaze moths from flying head first into a car, including loud owl-like noises being emitted from the front of the car. The owl is a primary predator and it is thought that the screech or ‘too-wit too-woo’ will be enough to send a moth flying in the opposite direction.
This has angered child safety groups, which are warning that the sight of two oncoming ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights, combined with a loud screeching sound would be enough to give children nightmares for a week. As a result, Volvo is looking into the possibility of using Coldplay songs as an alternative repellent.
Volvo’s preferred system involves a series of tiny holes along the leading edge of the bonnet and bumper, with each one containing a miniature airbag. When a moth is approaching, the airbag will be deployed, giving the moth a cushioned landing. If successful, Volvo will have pioneered another safety world-first – the smallest airbag ever created.
There’s also talk of tackling the problem at source, with Volvo keen to roll out a number of safety videos, aimed at educating caterpillars about the risks of night flight. Peter Purves and Jenny Agutter are two names being considered to present the video. PetrolBlog understands each caterpillar will be given a Volvo-branded helmet and a set of glow-in-dark Tufty stickers.
In a statement, a man seen wandering about outside a Volvo dealer in San Francisco told PetrolBlog: “If Volvo is serious about its Vision 2020, it has to consider the plight of the moth. I’d also welcome the move, as I’m fed up with cleaning the blood and guts from my windshield.”
Figures suggest more than 68 billion* moths are killed on the road every year, but with Volvo’s help, these flying insects should enjoy a more comfortable future. And far fewer headaches.
*Estimate based on no evidence whatsoever. But last night, PetrolBlog removed three dead moths from the front of the car, so that’s a good start.