2018 Volvo XC90
Volvo's self-driving car plans will reach a milestone come 2021. The Swedish luxury brand told The Car Connection in a Wednesday report that it will sell a Level 4 self-driving crossover SUV in 2021.
The brand's Senior Vice President Henrik Green said the next-generation Volvo XC90 will offer the advanced self-driving technology as a "four-figure" premium add-on. Green added that the SUV will be able to transport "sleeping passengers" to their destinations on designated roadways with an initial goal to semi-automate drivers' commutes.
A Level 4 self-driving system from Volvo would be a major step forward in the automotive industry. Thus far, Audi has come closest with Level 3 self-driving technology; Level 4 technology does not default back to the driver in case of an emergency. However, Audi has faced regulatory trouble in implementing its system. Volvo said it will work with state and federal regulators to approve the technology.
Volvo has recently focused more on the self-driving car segment. Last December, the brand delivered its first self-driving cars for the "Drive Me" project in Gothenburg, Sweden, the automaker’s hometown. Since then, three additional families have received self-driving Volvos to collect precious data and define the technology based on the driver's role. Volvo has also supplied thousands of cars to Uber for its self-driving car testing.
The news of Volvo's commitment to sell a self-driving XC90 in 2021 also comes after the Volvo Cars invested in Silicon Valley-based Luminar last week. Luminar, which makes an advanced lidar system, will now help Volvo's research and development process to bring self-driving cars to market with safety at the forefront. Lidar is a key technology to ensure self-driving cars "see" the road ahead.
The next-generation XC90 will be built at the company's new manufacturing plant near Charleston, South Carolina, where the automaker will also build the 2019 Volvo S60 sedan.