Volvo is to begin field trials of self-driving cars in order for its cars to handle real-world situations without the input of a driver
2 December 2013

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).

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Comments
5

2 December 2013
Sounds a bit Orwellian to me, i have to assume that Volvo have all the scenarios covered,not sure the idea of cars doing the driving while you sit there doing whatever,isn't that just like taking the Train?,except your in your car,will this just put more commuters on the Roads?,will A/B roads just be more clogged up?.I don't think this is the solution for future Road systems.

Peter Cavellini.

2 December 2013
@Peter Cavellini I can definitely see what you're saying and I think in the short term you'd be right, but in a far flung future where the car could easily know intricate details about your route and the traffic conditions on that route, and where all cars have the exact same knowledge about the road network, plus sharing their eventual destination with each other - I think it's easy to see a how a logical, non-emotional 'hive mind' could eradicate traffic jams for good. While as a petrol head I despair at the idea, as a commuter that spends 20% of his journey stuck in traffic - I kinda like it. It is like taking the train, except it could be door to door!

2 December 2013
The intention is that the driver can walk away from the car and the vehicle will then find a vacant spot and park itself. ---------------------------- But is anyone going to be able to afford the insurance premiums? Not just the fact that the driver isn't in control of his or her vehicle or away from the car whilst the engine is running (which I believe to be illegal in the UK), but this sounds open season for thieves. I have two very useful pieces of tech in my Ford Focus, voice control and park assist. Whilst park assist takes x4 the amount of time to park the car than I can, (not to mention the fact that if you can't park a car you have no right to be driving it), voice control can take anything from x10 to x100 the length of time it takes to achieve manually. Such technology sells cars, in practice however, it's utterly useless.

2 December 2013
@scotty5 I don't live with it everyday like you do, but I did use a Focus with park assist that was on loan to the fleet for a few days and I have to say that it parked perfectly every time. With voice activation though, I have to disagree with you to an extent. Yes, silly commands like asking the system to increase the volume (which I always found amusing on my car, as the button to activate voice command is next to the volume controls on the steering wheel) are in no way helpful. However, as we move into this ever connected world, and you compare the possibilities with what Google are doing with 'Google Now', then I can see voice control being really helpful. Being able to get radio stations by name (especially when we are connected 24x7 to internet radio / streaming services), or artists etc will be great and much safer to do by voice control. In the now though, being able to say any name in my contacts list and have my car use speech recognition to dial that person (without prior training) is really useful and something that I would otherwise have to pull over and look through my contacts book for. I can image that when sat-navs first appeared in cars people said they were ridiculous and would never replace a map... I've not used a map to navigate since 2007, and I have yet to end up in the sea!

12 December 2013
wow I would love to have test drive with it , since I saw it on www.warrenhenryvolvo.com I must have it.

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