Volvo and automotive supplier Autoliv in 2017 established the joint venture Zenuity to oversee the development of driver-assist features and a fully self-driving system.
On Thursday, Volvo said Zenuity will be split, with the fully self-driving division to become a standalone company fully owned by Volvo and the driver-assist division to be integrated with automotive supplier Veoneer, a spinoff of Autoliv.
Zenuity’s current operations in Sweden and China will become part of the new company owned by Volvo, while the current operations in Germany and the United States will become part of Veoneer.
The split is expected to accelerate the development of self-driving cars as it means the new company will be able to fully focus its efforts on self-driving technology, said Hakan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo. The process is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2020.
Volvo has been testing self-driving cars on public roads for several years and expects to have the first functioning system available in 2021. The system will debut in a redesigned XC90 and initially be able to function on designated highways. The automaker is yet to say where those highways will be located.
Such a system ranks as Level 4 on the SAE scale for self-driving capability. A Level 4 car can handle itself on its own though only in set conditions, meaning a driver needs to be on board to take control outside of the set conditions. Level 5 is the end goal. This will be reached when a car can handle on its own all situations a driver would be faced with it.