The race for more advanced technology is ongoing, and Volvo is upping the ante with its new Volvo autopilot system in a fleet of 100 self-driving vehicles set to be unleashed in Sweden as early as 2017. The cars are part of the Volvo Team’s research and design project known as “Drive Me” — is in full motion. A small fleet of the “Drive Me” equipped vehicles are currently rolling around the streets of Sweden using their innovative technology to shuttle passengers around without a full-time driver.
The anticipated 100 vehicles by 2017 will mark the largest autonomous fleet in the world, and offers a new option for getting around. While not being completely handsfree for an entire trip, the vehicle does offer drivers the option to let the car do the driving in certain situations where the car is equipped to handle the action.
“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. The technology, which will be called Autopilot, enables the driver to hand over the driving to the vehicle, which takes care of all driving functions,” he said.
Volvo’s dream of developing cars that result in zero deaths or serious injuries by 2020 hinges not only on airbags and super-strong crash structures, but autonomous driving.
Autonomous driving technology is not new, however, and Volvo is not the only company planning on having self-driving cars by the end of the decade.
Ford, Nissan, Renault, Audi and several other third parties including Google are just a few of the names developing the hardware and software needed for autonomous cars that can navigate their way through dynamic traffic environments without coming a cropper.
Vehicular self-driving technology is far from being perfected and there are still many legal issues that must be overcome. That said, Volvo’s latest initiative appears to be blazing a trail by involving what it calls “all the key players”, including transport authorities, legislators, a major city, a vehicle manufacturer and “real” customers.
When the full public test begins in 2017, it will see all 100 cars driven by Volvo customers on “selected roads in and around Gothenburg” on a 50km route.”
Now that the Box has been opened, it is just a matter of time before more auto makers are introducing new concept models for autonomous driving. If the new models catch on in popularity, there may even be enhancements to roads and other streets and avenues that give better signaling for these new technologies to become greater empowered. As the range of connectivity increases, the communication between cars, drivers, and other scenarios on the road become better understood, the capacity for improving these technologies will become even greater.
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