From the days of the old Volvo ads in which multiple cars were stacked on the roof of a single Volvo sedan to demonstrate the car's structural integrity, the Swedish carmaker has gone on to earn the reputation of a global safety leader in the automobile industry. Since then, the company has continually made strides on the occupant-protection front. Today Volvo aspires to bring the number of people killed and seriously injured in new Volvo cars down to zero by 2020. That's a lofty goal, but certainly one worth pursuing.

To that end, Volvo has revealed a number of state-of-the-art safety features that will be introduced on the all-new Volvo XC90 SUV due out late next year. These new technologies -- some of which are world-firsts for the auto industry -- will be rolled out for testing by automotive journalists and industry experts throughout this summer. Here's is a rundown of each:

Pedestrian Detection in Darkness

This system brings nighttime pedestrian detection and auto-brake technology together for the first time. These two components work effectively in tandem to prevent collisions with bystanders and cyclists in low-light conditions.

Road Edge and Barrier Detection With Steer Assist

This feature monitors the physical geography of the roadway and detects if the car is about to drive off the pavement or into a barrier or obstruction. The system then autonomously applies steering torque to bring the vehicle back on its intended path. This technology is a world-first.

Adaptive Cruise Control With Steer Assist

Automatically shadowing the vehicle ahead, this technology helps the driver remain in the intended lane and follow the flow of traffic.

Collision Mitigation for Animals

This world-first technology monitors and detects animals in the vehicle's path and automatically brakes to prevent a collision or at least lessen the severity of impact.

Volvo is also developing safety technologies beyond 2014. One such system is known as Car 2 Car, which will enable vehicles to communicate with each other using transmitters. When information can be shared between moving cars, it creates a safer overall environment on the road.

Another future safety feature is Volvo's self-parking car. This autonomous parking technology would allow a car to find a vacant parking spot on its own (after dropping its driver off). By utilizing auto brake, autonomously driven cars will be able to interact safely in areas populated with nonautonomous vehicles and pedestrians.

From the all-new Volvo XC90 and its safety features to ground-breaking technologies currently in development, this Swedish car manufacturer's status as the safety flagship of the automobile industry continues to rise to new heights. No need to stack any more cars.

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Jessica Shea Choksey is an automotive journalist and former writer/reporter for the PBS/Discovery Channel television series "MotorWeek." She began her career in journalism as an editor for numerous magazines and publications mainly outside of the automotive field. Jessica currently resides with her family, in Southern California.

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