Volvo to release 100 Autonomous “Self-Driving” cars into Gothenburg, Sweden

Despite Google’s self-driving car consuming most of the headlines, several different car manufacturers are also working to create their own autonomous vehicles. One such manufacturer being Volvo.

On Monday, Volvo, a Swedish-based car company publicised the launch of their pilot project “Drive Me – Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility” which will place 100 autonomous Volvo cars into busy city streets. The project will be situated on roughly 50 kilometers of roads in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“Our aim is for the car to be able to handle all possible traffic scenarios by itself, including Volvo-stepping-up-to-rival-Google-in-autonomous-car-technology3leaving the traffic flow and finding a safe ‘harbour’ if the driver for any reason is unable to regain control,” Erik Coelingh, Volvo technical specialist stated. “Our approach is based on the principle that autonomously driven cars must be able to move safely in environments with non-autonomous vehicles and unprotected road users.”

The main aim behind the “Drive Me” project is to target societal benefits of self-driving autonomous vehicles and to gain a head start as the leader in this field. Another objective is to increase road safety, a goal Volvo has been working on for some time in a programme called “20/20 Vision”.

The self-driving automobiles to be used in “Drive Me” are described as “highly autonomous cars” meaning that the vehicle can handle all driving functions the driver would depend on, save for a few situational scenarios which are more difficult. The automobiles will also be able to park itself, without the driver even being in the car! The first model of the self-driving cars will be unveiled in 2014 and will be known as the all-new Volvo XC90.

Google has been at the forefront of developing self-driving technology for the past few years, and is now hoping to partner with car manufacturers. All the while, several automobile manufacturers such as Audi, Cadillac, Toyota, Ford and more have been delving into certain aspects of autonomous driving. For example, certain cars can now park themselves at the push of a button.

Volvo’s “Drive Me” project is expected  2014, but the ETA of the first cars on the road isn’t until 2017.

How do you feel about autonomous cars? Let us know at 4pm!

3 thoughts on “Volvo to release 100 Autonomous “Self-Driving” cars into Gothenburg, Sweden”

  1. I am intrigued by the concept of the autonomous vehicle project being proposed by Volvo in Sweden as well as other projects around the world like the Google car and similar projects by major automakers. I believe that the autonomous vehicle travel might very well be the golden ticket when it comes to solving many of the problems related to motor vehicle travel. Problems and issues like driving while impaired, drowsy or while distracted may very well be eliminated and we might witness a corresponding reduction in some of the needless deaths on our highways if and when autonomous vehicle travel becomes commonplace. However, I think most people are looking through rose colored glasses when it comes to the idea that autonomous vehicles will be the norm within only a few years or even within this decade. There are simply too many barriers to overcome in such a short time. For example, although not calling a great deal of attention to it, Volvo alludes to the idea that before autonomous vehicle use is very common, significant improvement to a city’s infrastructure will be required as evidenced by their statement that the project will only operate on “approximately 50 kilometers of selected roads.” I may be reading too much into that statement but I think that implies roadway modification and improvement which might very well include the placement of special sensors as mentioned elsewhere in the world will be required for the project to be successful. What I have also noticed missing from the press release pertains to how liability issues are going to be resolved. When things go bad, and we know that they will eventually, who takes the blame for the damage and possible death that may result? The automaker? The software programmer? The 3D map maker? The occupant/potential driver waiting to take over? The vehicle owner? Will there be limits on the amount of liability to all the potential civil suit defendants or cities where autonomous vehicles are permitted to operate? I do not mean to be horribly pessimistic about the concept because like I mentioned at the outset, I think has a great deal of potential for saving lives not to mention the potential for solving some congestion issues. I just think that the automakers need to temper their optimism. World wide success of this concept will require partnership between automakers, software developers, vehicle owner and governments on a scale beyond anything we have ever seen before. I believe it is possible but not on anything approaching a large scale for the foreseeable future.

  2. Will it work in the mountains when there is ten feet of snow and elevation variations of several thousand feet? Will it come in four-wheel drive too and be capable of driving several hundred miles to the nearest town? Bring it on Google. Sounds like a suburban yuppie car.

  3. Yes, this is a good idea. People are no longer smart enough to drive. I drove a 20-something year old home from work the other day. He was amazed at how I drove, saying: “wow, you look around a lot when you drive.” He wasn’t joking.

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