Volvo to test automated driving in UK

April 27, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
After initiating a large test of automated driving under real-world traffic conditions in Gothenburg (Sweden), Volvo now plans to execute a similarly broad test in the UK. The project “Drive me London” again will involve real families driving automated vehicles on public roads, the company said.

Volvo plans sourcing data from the everyday users participating in the test and use this data to develop Automated Driving (AD) cars that are suitable for real world driving conditions, rather than the more unrealistic conditions found on test tracks. Thatcham Research, the insurance industry’s research organization, will be providing the technical data analysis and professional test drivers needed as part of the trial.


Drive Me London will begin in early 2017 with a limited number of semi-autonomous driving cars and expand in 2018 to include up to 100 AD cars, making it the largest and most extensive AD testing programme on Britain’s streets.


The introduction of AD cars promises to revolutionise Britain’s roads in four main areas – safety, congestion, pollution and time saving.


Independent research has revealed that AD has the potential to reduce the number of car accidents very significantly, in some cases by up to 30 per cent. Up to 90 per cent of all accidents are presently caused by driver error or distraction, something that should largely disappear with AD cars.


“Vehicle manufacturers are predicting that highly autonomous vehicles, capable of allowing the driver to drop ‘out of the loop’ for certain sections of their journey, will be available from around 2021. Without doubt, crash frequency will also dramatically reduce. We’ve already seen this with the adoption of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) on many new cars. Research in the US by NHTSA predicts that by 2035, as a result of autonomous and connected cars, crashes will be reduced by 80%. Additionally, if a crash can’t be avoided, then the impact speed will also drop as a result of the system’s performance - reducing the severity of the crash,” said Peter Shaw, chief executive at Thatcham Research.


In terms of congestion, AD cars allow traffic to move more smoothly, reducing traffic jams and by extension cutting dangerous emissions and associated pollution.