Look ma, no hands! The day will yet come when you can read a book and chat away on the phone in a car without a care in the world. Volvo is one of the companies setting out to make this dream a reality – the automaker is set to play the leading role in the world’s first large-scale autonomous driving pilot project, which will see 100 self-driving Volvo cars using public roads in everyday driving conditions.
The ‘Drive Me – Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility’ pilot, as it’s called, will commence in 2014 and will involve self-driving cars using approximately 50 km of selected roads in and around the Swedish city of Gothenburg. The chosen routes will be typical commuter arteries, and will include motorway conditions and frequent queues.
The 100 Volvo cars driven by customers will be new models developed on the company’s upcoming Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), and are defined as Highly Autonomous Cars, according to the official definition by the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) in Germany.
Essentially, this means that the responsibility is handed over to the vehicle, which 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. This allows the driver to walk away from the car at the parking entrance, while the vehicle finds a vacant spot and parks by itself.
The joint initiative between Volvo Car Group, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and the City of Gothenburg, aims to pinpoint the societal benefits of autonomous driving. It’s also looking at positioning the country and Volvo as leaders in the development of future mobility.