The upcoming EX90 SUV will be capable of monitoring the world around it more closely than any Volvo before, both inside and outside.

Volvo will reveal the EX90 on November 9, at which point it’ll debut a new “driver understanding system”.

Using two cameras, the electric SUV will monitor the driver’s eye patterns. It measures how long the driver is looking at the road and, “allowing for natural variations”, works out why they might not be paying full attention.

“Is the driver looking at the road too little? It can be a sign that they are visually distracted, perhaps from looking at their phone,” Volvo says.

“Too much? That can be a sign of cognitive distraction, which could mean that the driver is occupied by their thoughts to the point where they no longer register what they are looking at.”

The steering wheel sensors are also used to track the driver’s inputs. If the driver is distracted, the car will gently warn them, before getting more vocal, and eventually pulling over to the side of the road.

Variations of the Volvo system – which the Swedish brand would no doubt argue are less advanced – feature in most modern cars. Some are capable of warning drivers when their eyes stray from the road, others are able to pull over if their driver is incapacitated.

Outside, the EX90 will feature a LiDAR sensor that Volvo says could cut road accidents by 20 per cent when widespread.

The roof of the EX90 will have a LiDAR sensor capable of detecting pedestrians up to 250 metres away, or spotting a black tyre on a road up to 120 metres away at night, which Volvo says makes it safer than vehicles with cameras, radars, or a combination of both.

“By combining our advanced sensors, in-house developed software and the car’s core computing power, we introduce redundancy for added safety, and aim to offer a car that can keep track of more potential hazards than we ever have before – both on the outside and inside,” Volvo says.

All up there’s a set of eight cameras, five radars, 16 ultrasonic sensors, and the cutting-edge LiDAR.

“We believe the EX90 to be the safest Volvo car to ever hit the road,” said Joachim de Verdier, head of Safe Vehicle Automation at Volvo Cars.

“We are fusing our understanding of the outside environment with our more detailed understanding of driver attention. When all our safety systems, sensors, software and computing power come together, they create a preventative shield of safety around you – and you won’t even know it’s there until you need it.”

As for the EX90? Images filed with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, first published by Worldscoop, show an upright SUV which borrows heavily from the Volvo Concept Recharge.

A separate filing, picked up by Motor 1suggested the Embla name would be used alongside the EX90 badge.

The front end features slim lights and a closed-off grille due to its electric powertrain, while the side profile is part SUV and part Cross Country wagon.

The flat, aero-style door handles are becoming more common in modern electric cars. The upswept window line and strong shoulders are classic Volvo, while the rear features an evolved take on the slim light signature that features on the brand’s current range.

The car will debut a new architecture for Volvo.

It will reportedly be an evolved version of the current car’s SPA architecture, which underpins the brand’s medium-to-large vehicles.

Electric SPA2 vehicles will reportedly offer a completely flat floor, shortened overhangs, and a more cabforward stance, while combustion-engined models will reportedly feature more conventional interior proportions.

Previous reports have indicated the XC90 replacement will be offered only with electric powertrains. The current XC90 will hang around for a few years longer to offer buyers who want petrol power an option.

MORE: Everything Volvo XC90

Scott Collie

Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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