Volvo starts large test with robot cars on public roads

December 05, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Hundred autonomous vehicles will populate Gotenburg's streets in the near future. In a project with several partners, the carmaker intends to pinpoint the societal benefits of autonomous driving under every day conditions. The project is also designed to highlight Sweden and Volvo as mobility technology leaders.

“Autonomous vehicles are an integrated part of Volvo Cars' as well as the Swedish government’s vision of zero traffic fatalities. This public pilot represents an important step towards this goal,” says Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Group. “It will give us an insight into the technological challenges at the same time as we get valuable feedback from real customers driving on public roads.”

The autonomous vehicles will be underway on some 50 kilometres of selected roads in and around Gothenburg. The roads selected represent typical commuter arteries and include motorway conditions and frequent traffic stalls. These conditions are considered ideal for autonomous vehicles: During stop-and-go traffic, the drivers are offloaded of the tedious task of driving; instead they can dedicate themselves to more interesting or productive activities.

The project also includes tests of autonomous valet parking, with no driver being present in the vehicle. The preparatory works for the "Drive Me" project will commence in 2014; the first autonomous vehicles will be on the way in 2017.

The 100 robot cars involved in the project will be driven by customers. They will be new models developed on Volvo's upcoming Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). This architecture is designed for the continuous introduction of new driver assistant system and safety systems - all the way to technologies enabling highly automated driving.

Besides Volvo, The Swedish Transport Administration and the Swedish Transport Agency and the City of Gothenburg as well as Lindholmen Science Park will participate in the trial.