While in the U.S. Google is making strides in the development of autonomous cars, overseas major automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo are also at an advanced stage and hope to have the technology ready for the mainstream by as early as the end of this decade. Volvo recently launched a pilot project in the city of Gothenburg, Sweden, where its self-driving cars are being tested on real public roads among other, non-autonomous traffic.

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Volvo calls the project "Drive Me – Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility", a joint initiative between the automaker, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and the City of Gothenburg. Initially, a handful of cars are being used in the project, and already in this early stage of the project the cars and their autonomous technology are performing well.

“The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic all by themselves,” Volvo engineer Erik Coelingh said in a statement. “This is an important step towards our aim that the final Drive Me cars will be able to drive the whole test route in highly autonomous mode.”

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Volvo sees numerous benefits to the technology--improving emissions in city centers, alleviating traffic, and making driving more relaxing. But most importantly it sees it improving safety. As Volvo explains, a majority of vehicle accidents caused today are due to human error.

The goal for the Drive Me project is to deliver 100 autonomous cars to customers in Gothenburg by 2017. These customers will drive the cars in everyday conditions on approximately 31 miles of selected roads in and around Gothenburg. These roads are typical commuter arteries, including motorway conditions and frequent queues.