To prove it’s serious about speeding up autonomous car development, Volvo will soon launch its most ambitious self-driving vehicle trial yet in the UK.
In 2017, the automaker will launch a new driverless public pilot project dubbed Drive Me London. It takes keys from researchers and hands them over to families. The project stems from the Drive Me project originally launched in 2013.
Volvo plans to start with a handful of cars and then expand to up to 100 autonomous vehicles by 2018. The trial will use special versions of the XC90, S90 and V90 equipped with Volvo’s autopilot technology, cameras and sensors.
The goal is to collect info from everyday drivers in everyday situations to help develop autonomous cars for real-world driving conditions. Volvo says you just can’t get that info from driving on a highway or on a test track.
Volvo, other automakers and even U.S. regulators all believe self-driving cars will make the roads safer. Volvo, quoting independent research numbers, says they could reduce car crashes up to 30 percent. The automaker also says right now up to 90 percent of all accidents are caused by driver error or distraction.
“Autonomous driving represents a leap forward in car safety,” says Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo president and chief executive. “The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved.”
Self-driving cars are key to Volvo’s 2020 plan. The automaker recently pledged by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured by a new Volvo.
The Swedish automaker, owned by China’s Geely, is also a member of the newly announced Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets. Ford, Google, Uber and Lyft are also part of the new group advocating for self-driving vehicles. The coalition is headed up by a former top NHTSA administrator.