Volvo has announced a new program that will test the real-world viability of autonomous vehicles. Billed as the “world’s first large-scale autonomous driving pilot project”, the test program is scheduled to take place in Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Dubbed ‘Drive Me – Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility’, the project will feature 100 prototype vehicles driving autonomously around the city of Gothenburg. The real-world tests will be conducted on 50 kilometers of roads around the city that represent typical commuter arteries and areas that are prone to traffic jams.
“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,” says Hakan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Group. “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.”
In addition to improving traffic efficiency, Volvo is hopeful that the Drive Me program will also highlight what infrastructure requirements might be necessary for an autonomous vehicle world. The study will also track customers’ confidence in autonomous vehicles and how surrounding motorists react to a self-driving car.
Volvo, in conjunction with the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and the City of Gothenburg, will begin developing its autonomous test vehicles next year, with the rubber set to hit the road in 2017. The test vehicles will ride on Volvo’s latest SPA architecture. The vehicles will be defined as Highly Autonomous Cars by the Federal Highway Research Institute, which means they will be capable of driving completely on their own.
In addition to self-driving, the test vehicle will also be capable of parking on their own. Volvo previewed its work in the area of self-parking earlier this year.
Volvo’s next-generation XC90 crossover, which will launch next year, will be able to operate autonomously on a limited basis.