Volvo is undertaking an ambitious project where later this year 100 of its self-driving prototypes will be handed over to regular customers in Gothenburg, Sweden, the automaker’s hometown.
The customers will drive the prototypes in everyday conditions, including on approximately 31 miles of selected roads where the vehicles are able to operate in full self-driving mode. Operating the prototypes on the section of road where the self-driving mode is available is demonstrated in the video below.
On Monday, at the 2017 Detroit auto show, Volvo introduced the Hain family. The Gothenburg residents were the first to be chosen by Volvo to participate in the project, known as Drive Me. Volvo is also planning similar projects in other countries. So far it’s added China and the United Kingdom to the list.
Volvo is aiming to have its first fully self-driving car on the market by 2021. The car is expected to have Level 4 autonomy, meaning it can handle most situations on its own but will require a human to handle situations such as poor weather or where there is insufficient map data. The automaker explains that getting regular customers involved early in the development is vital for defining the technology based on the role of the driver and not the other way around.
To develop its self-driving technology, Volvo is working with ride-sharing giant Uber as well as fellow Swedish firm Autoliv, an automotive supplier specializing in safety systems. Trent Victor, who heads development of crash avoidance systems at Volvo, said the partnership with Uber is to develop the hardware required for self-driving cars and the partnership with Autoliv is for the software. Volvo and Autoliv have even formed a joint venture called Zenuity that will license the software for self-driving cars to other firms.
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