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Volvo Begins Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Program

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Dec. 6, 2013—Swedish automaker Volvo recently announced that it is joining the race to put self-driving cars on the road, and plans to do it by 2017.

Mercedes-Benz and Nissan made similar announcements this year, planning to have their own autonomous vehicles commercially viable by 2020. Tesla Motors is shooting for a 2017 release_notes.

And Volvo plans to officially launch its “Drive Me” pilot project beginning in early 2014 with its customer-research and product-development phases. By 2017, Volvo expects to unload 100 self-driving vehicles onto public roads in Swedish city Gothenburg for a large-scale test.

In a news release, Volvo said the goal of the project is simple: find out the benefits of autonomous driving.

“Autonomous vehicles are an integrated part of Volvo Cars’, as well as the Swedish government’s, vision of zero traffic fatalities. This public pilot represents an important step towards this goal,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo. “It will give us an insight into the technological challenges at the same time as we get valuable feedback from real customers driving on public roads.”

The self-driven cars will use approximately 50 kilometers (31 miles) of selected roads in and around Gothenburg over frequently traveled commuter areas.

“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.

Key areas of focus for the “Drive Me” project include:

  • How autonomous vehicles bring societal and economic benefits by improving traffic efficiency, the traffic environment and road safety.
  • Infrastructure requirements for autonomous driving.
  • Typical traffic situations suitable for autonomous vehicles.
  • Customers’ confidence in autonomous vehicles.
  • How surrounding drivers interact smoothly with a self-driving car.

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