Currently reading: Volvo to launch new self-driving trials
Volvo is aiming to send 100 self-driving cars out with customers, for testing on public roads, by 2017
2 mins read
19 February 2015

Volvo intends to test 100 self-driving cars on public roads as part of a trial in 2017.

The trial will involve customers taking part in XC90s. The SUVs will feature a series of technologies that will allow them to 'read' the road around them and react to other cars and pedestrians.

Volvo says that there is more in the way of back-up systems in the cars that will be used for the trials, with independent systems being used to bring the car to a safe stop if any element becomes disabled for any reason. It would also be able to identify faults, such as a tyre blowout, and bring the car to a safe halt.

The cars will use a combination of radars, cameras and laser sensors, several of which are available in the new XC90 already. The car will also interact with GPS satellite systems that will be used to pick the best route for the car.

These include a radar system and a camera in the windscreen - also in the new XC90 - that will read traffic signs, assess the curvature of the road and detect cars and pedestrians. There are radar systems on the four corners of the car, which inform the car of the location of signs, poles or tunnels, while four cameras also monitor the car's perimeter.

A laser is placed low on the front of the car, and scans the road up to 150m ahead to identify objects directly in the car's path. A camera placed on the top of the windscreen also scans the road ahead, and can identify pedestrians and other unexpected hazards. This has three cameras in one, with three different widths of view.

The trials will take place around Gothenburg, and Volvo will start the recruiting process for the owners in 2016. Although the details will be confirmed closer to the launch, Volvo says the cars will be leased to the customers. The trials are anticipated to last until 2019, and Volvo has said that 2020 is a "realistic target" for production vehicles.

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:


Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Read our review

Car review
Volvo XC90 2003-2014

The Volvo XC90 is a big seven seat SUV in desperate need of modernisation, despite still having some strengths

Join the debate


19 February 2015
We are used to other road users reacting in a certain way on Britains by-roads and motorways. When these bots start intermingling, things are gonna get a bit interesting, if not dangerous. Let's say one of these things has a moment with itself and suddenly decides to do a full on emergency brake application in lane 3 of the M1, just because something like a piece of polythene has wafted into it's path. Or it can't recognise the fact that an ambulance on blues is making it's way up behind and doesn't get out of the way quick enough, causing frustration in it's wake. Yes, the human driver can probably take over in these situations, but if you've got to sit at the helm on tenterhooks ready for any eventuality, you might as well drive the bloody thing yourself.

19 February 2015
Cobnapint wrote:

Let's say one of these things has a moment with itself and suddenly decides to do a full on emergency brake application in lane 3 of the M1, just because something like a piece of polythene has wafted into it's path. Or it can't recognise the fact that an ambulance on blues is making it's way up behind and doesn't get out of the way quick enough, causing frustration in it's wake.

Because humans have never been known to misinterpret what they see and are always keenly aware of the world beyond their dashboard.

Yeah, the electronic systems will make occasional mistakes but so do the flesh and blood systems in current control of the cars. They'll be fit from introduction as soon as they're making similar numbers of mistakes and, being dedicated systems rather than general purpose brains, should improve from there.

20 February 2015
Humans are humans, but at least they can make some kind of forecast as to what somebody else is about to do. You know, that - what's this idiot in the white Merc Sprinter up to, moment. I'll give him a bit of room, he's driving like a prat. If my electronically controlled washing machine makes an occasional mistake, or my printer cocks up - it's not an issue. But if a self driving car is proven to be the cause of an RTC and ends up killing somebody, then it is. And who takes the blame? The babysitting driver because he/she didn't hit the kill switch quick enough? Is the controlling black box brought into court to have it's memory dumped in front of the prosecution? And will an independent electronics company be employed to do the download? Are the manufacturers going to be hauled over the coals for producing it in the first place? What about the salesman in the Volvo dealership - he told me it was perfectly safe, your honour. And that it had been tested to the highest standards that align perfectly with Volvo's core values. Your honour.

19 February 2015
Please stop running these stupid stories that are just done to as a exercise in free advertising. Until an indication of how much it'll add to the cost of a Focus and a car has driven through London on it's own these stories are just fantasy

20 February 2015
So much paranoia. Over the next decade we are going to get autonomous vehicles, like it or not. And once people get over their initial misgivings, they are going to love it.

Let's face it, most of the population sees driving as a means of getting from A to B, and they're the many millions who are not reading a motoring website. The idea of being able to be chauffeured along in their own car is going to be hugely appealing to them.

The other reality is that the average standard of driving is pretty poor and appears to be getting worse. I'd back a team of engineers and boffins at Volvo over the mother-of-three driving an XC90 on the school trip any day (or father-of-three, not being gender-discriminatory).

Yes, there will be cock-ups. It's also possible that some cock-ups will involve deaths. This is nothing new in motoring (look at the recent Toyota recall scandal for example). But the net result over time will be the greatest reduction in the annual road toll ever seen.

Plus, the art of driving will be left for those who genuinely enjoy it, which will hopefully lead to a greater distinction between 'weekday' and 'weekend' cars.

20 February 2015
All you have to do to convince yourself self-driving cars are a good idea is watch the Russian dash-cam videos on YouTube. Then it becomes clear, if it isn't already, that humans re not fit to be driving cars. That's why two million of us die on the roads every year worldwide. The sooner all cars drive themselves the better.

People forget that aeroplanes already 'drive' themselves, and have for many years. As do Tube trains. If you trust a 747 to land itself in fog, surely you can trust a little car to take you to the shops.

20 February 2015
Autonomous driving is on it's way the wider implications and design potential seem less well covered.

When this does happen:

Does car ownership make sense do most people drive more than an hour a day. Why own a car

The liability will have to pass to car manufactures. Ya end of car insurance. The list is extensive affecting, ownership, employment and legislation.

On the design side if there is no human driver the current car design no longer makes sense. Particularly internally I'm thinking more train carriage, theatre and entertainment systems. Add into this EV with integrated chassis a whole new design opportunity opens up. When will we see a blank sheet EV autonomous car design?

20 February 2015
How much would you be prepared to pay for this 'extra'? Bearing in mind parking assist is about £600'ish

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week