Volvo says it is to launch a real world test of 100 self-driving cars in Gothenburg in 2017.
The project is called ‘Drive Me’ and is a joint initiative between Volvo, the Swedish Transportation Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and Gothenburg local government.
The cars will be used on ‘public roads in everyday driving conditions’ on 50 kilometers of ‘typical commuter arteries, including motorways and frequent queues.’
The project kicks off in 2014 with ‘customer research and technology development’ and will then move into designing a ‘user interface and cloud functionality’ before the first prototype cars are used by members of public.
“Our aim is for the car to be able to handle all possible traffic scenarios by itself, including leaving the traffic flow and finding a safe ‘harbour’ if the driver for any reason is unable to regain control,” said Erik Coelingh, Technical Specialist at Volvo Car Group.
Volvo says the vehicles in the pilot project are defined as ‘Highly Autonomous Cars’, which means that the ‘vehicle can handle all driving functions at the driver's discretion. The driver is expected to be available for occasional control but with a sufficiently comfortable transition time.’
The project also includes fully automated parking, without a driver in the car. The intention is that the driver can walk away from the car and the vehicle will then find a vacant spot and park itself. The prototype Volvo cars will be based on the brand’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA).