Volvo on Wednesday announced the new self-driving system Ride Pilot at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show underway in Las Vegas.
Ride Pilot is described as a hands-off, eyes-off system, meaning a driver will be free to do other things when the system is activated, like writing a text or checking email from behind the wheel. This is in contrast to existing self-driving systems available in showrooms, all of which require constant monitoring from the driver.
Volvo said Ride Pilot is designed for highway use, though the automaker hasn't said under what conditions exactly. It will likely only function where there is sufficient map data. The driver will also need to take back control at a moment's notice, so sleeping behind the wheel won't be possible. This ranks it at Level 3 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability. A true self-driving car capable of equaling a human ranks at Level 5 on the scale.
Volvo Ride Pilot
Volvo is yet to say when Ride Pilot will be available, though the automaker said California will be the first market. Volvo will start testing Ride Pilot on California roads by mid-2022.
The automaker said the system will be launched once it has been verified as safe, and all neccessary regulations are in place. Volvo plans to offer it as a subscription service starting with the XC90 replacement to be revealed later this year. Last year's Concept Recharge is thought to be a preview of the XC90 replacement.
“We are proud to announce the planned U.S. launch of our first truly unsupervised autonomous driving feature, as we look to set a new industry standard for autonomy without compromising safety,” Mats Moberg, Volvo's head of R&D, said in a statement.
Volvo Concept Recharge
Volvo's various self-driving features will rely on software developed by the in-house self-driving division Zenseact, as well as multiple sensors including lidar.
The latest announcement came on the same day that fellow Geely brand Zeekr announced plans to launch a vehicle with an advanced self-driving system developed in partnership with Mobileye. Zeekr said it plans to have its vehicle available in 2024.
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Update: The article has been updated to mention that Ride Pilot will initially handle highway situations.